Kid Stuff

Leading in Reading

university students head local literacy program

Lisa de Felice |

A group of UW-Eau Claire students are encouraging reading to South and DeLong Middle School students through a group called Literacy Leaders.
    Literacy Leaders is comprised of five UWEC students who share a mission of getting middle school students reading, in hopes that they will go home and read with their families. The program, which recently won a 2009 Youth Leaders for Literacy Award from the National Education Association, involves UWEC students visiting the middle schoolers weekly at their schools and reading with them.

The students they are paired up to read with are 23 kids from English Language Learner classes. Most of the middle schoolers are Hmong children who need improvement in speaking English.

Lucianne Boardman, director of the Reading Partner Program and Literacy Leaders, has been working with these programs since 2001, although they have been around for about 21 years.

Boardman says the Literacy Leaders program is designed to have children practice reading in order to “build fluency and comprehension in their reading.” She adds that the children are given books to take home so that they will read to their siblings.

“The key to our program,” says Boardman, “is to just have fun with books. If they enjoy reading them, they’ll read more, and that’s important.”

The books that the middle schoolers get to keep have been donated by Borders, the Reading Partner Program funded by the school district, First Book, and The Friends of the Library.

After about a month of interactive reading, the students of South and DeLong got to enjoy a day of fun and creativity with the students of UWEC. Two other UWEC students, who are part of the reading program, attended the event as well.

The day started off with a limo ride picking the kids up from the middle schools and bringing them to campus. The limo ride was donated to the Literacy Leaders from Gene Schreiner, who is the owner of Pro Limousine.

Once on campus, the students split into groups to participate in three activities: Readers Theater, shirt decorating, and mural painting.

During the Readers Theater, the group of kids read over a script that they helped create,entitled “Seek Great Treasures in Reading with Friends.” Each child read a different part aloud and it all came together to be a story about the importance of reading with friends and family.

At a second station, the middle schoolers painted shirts using stencils. The final design was a treasure chest with books flying out of it.

Lastly, the kids painted a mural they designed of a treasure map where “X” marked the spot for reading! The mural was the highlight of the day (besides the free pizza donated by Toppers and Pizza Hut) because the finished product is what will be on display at LE Phillips Memorial Library in Eau Claire.

On April 2 at 6pm the “Seek Great Treasures in Reading” map will be unveiled at the library. The children, sporting the shirts they painted, will be attending and performing their “Readers Theater.” Their families and friends are encouraged to come and the event is open to the public. Snacks will be available and authors of children’s books will be there to sign books and promote reading. While there, you might just find your own treasure in a book!