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Club empowers young readers

If high school students went to McDonald’s and could not read the menu, something would be wrong. Book Buddy Club exists to counteract this problem and helps to battle illiteracy.

Diana Dille, education career counselor at CSU [California State University] Fresno, gave a 40-minute training for future campus Book Buddies.

“”I think it is important for those high school students who will participate in Book Buddy Club to create relationships with their younger counterparts,”” Dille said. “”The high schoolers will have a great impact upon the lives of the young elementary students.””

Dille developed the Fresno Book Buddy program 12 years ago as part of her masters project at Fresno Pacific University. A couple of years ago, Care Fresno adopted the program and is closely working with Evangelical for Social Action [ESA] in Fresno.

Last year, many students on campus traveled to Pinedale Elementary once a week during lunch, read to students and crested friendships. They are going back for more.

“I would definitely recommend getting involved with Book Buddies,” Andrew Kaiser, ’05, said. “It is really an awesome experience and the kids are great.”

Not only did students read, they also created friendships with the kids.

“I absolutely loved my little boy,” Corinne Pogue, ’06, said. “When I first met with him, he was very shy. By the second time, he told me about his week, friends, and about books he liked. We had a great time.”

Student who participate in the Book Buddy program find that the simple act of giving can become an enjoyable experience.

“”It is important for the older students to share themselves with their book buddies, going the extra mile to make them comfortable,”” Dille said. “”While it is important to read to the young students, they eventually should be encouraged to read as well. And when they make a mistake, encourage them to pronounce a word again and keep going.””

Once a week, high school students will read and be a friend to a younger student for 30-45 minutes. The Pinedale program is the largest in the Fresno area.

“It is a really cool feeling you get when you give up your lunch to read to a kid,” Kaiser said. “The minute he sees you he gets this big smile on his face, and runs to pick out his favorite book.”

Book Buddies is open to any students, not just those who participated last year.

“I am a little nervous [about joining Book Buddies],” April Fujihara, ’06, said. “But I think it will be a good experience.”

These life experiences help shape and build Christian character in participants.

“I enjoy working with kids and I thought it would be a great experience, so I just decided to try it,” Kaiser said. “I am very glad I did, I can’t explain it, but you really feel like you’ve done something worthwhile.”

Students who are interested in the Book Buddies program need to sign up ASAP in front of the high school office.

Participation will involve a full commitment of 12 weeks. Students will ride a provided bus to the Pinedale Elementary campus every Thursday during lunch.

Participants will receive complete community service credit. There will be a mandatory training program during lunch in the JJ room on Oct. 5. The program will begin on Oct. 14.

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