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encouraging teens to become Reading Buddies

January 5, 2010
Times Observer

Parents can play a key role in encouraging teens to become Reading Buddies and promoting family literacy. Many teens enjoy spending time with younger children in a friendly and encouraging teaching role. Younger siblings, cousins, siblings of friends, Sunday School children, library story hour participants, and elementary children at their schools all provide opportunities for teens to become Reading Buddies. This relationship can be developed either as part of a structured program through local schools or libraries or can happen informally within the family and community.

Reluctant readers can often be encouraged to become happily engaged in reading independently after they have experienced the fun and entertainment of reading with an older student. A teen who shares the joy of reading for pleasure with a child who may be struggling with their beginning reading skills can be the difference between school success or failure for that child.

Male teen readers are especially needed to model for boys that reading is not something that just women and girls enjoy but is an interest and skill both enjoyed and needed for boys and men to thrive in school and throughout their lives.

What are characteristics of Reading Buddies? • Demonstrate that they are reliable, creative, kind students who love books and reading. • Enjoy spending time with younger children. • Show their Little Buddies that reading is fun and rewarding. • Take turns reading aloud with their Little Buddies. • Play games and offer interactive activities.

What do teens gain by being Reading Buddies? • Enjoy great volunteer experiences. • Develop meaningful additions to resume and college applications. • Experience the joy of helping a younger child read and succeed. • Have the opportunity to work with other teen volunteers in carrying out games and other fun activities. • Develop leadership and communication skills. • Explore opportunities in family literacy, education, and library career pathways. • Receive incentives and food. • Have lots of fun!!

To learn more about opportunities to become Reading Buddies, encourage teens to contact their school counselor or librarian; visit the public library and youth-serving agencies and offer to volunteer; and talk with leaders in their faith community.

Reading - a gift to be enjoyed and shared.

Forbes is the Business and Community Liaison at Cassadaga Job Corps Academy. She has an AAS in Nursing from Jamestown Community College and a BS in Human Services and Community with a concentration in women and family issues from SUNY Empire State College. She lives in Jamestown and is the mother of an adult son and grandmother of three. or her web page at



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