Buddies foster strong readers

Learning to love reading will make for a stronger reader

Learning to love reading will make for a stronger reader.

That’s the concept behind the reading buddies program at the Greater Victoria Public Library.

The program, developed in 2001, pairs teen volunteers with elementary-aged children for week-long sessions to help build on children’s reading abilities.

It provides children with one more way to get extra help with reading, said Tracy Kendrick, coordinator of children’s and teen services.

“We’ve found that the reading buddies program makes a huge difference for so many children,” she said.

“Because we make it so fun, and because they really love the attention of the teen big buddy, it’s almost sometimes the thing that really turns their reading around for them,” Kendrick added.

The program also includes literacy-based games and activities, such as board games, scavenger hunts, and crafts, in which both big and little buddies take part.

This year, children will also have the opportunity to practice reading digitally.

Six new Kobo Vox e-readers will be shared among local libraries, thanks to a partnership between the GVPL and Orca Book Publishers.

Little buddies will also have access to new Orca titles, Kendrick said.

“It’s a great way to introduce them to digital reading. We think they’ll really enjoy it and we hope that the enjoyment will further engage them in reading and make them into stronger readers.”

Devon Tatton, children’s librarian at the Oak Bay branch, said she looks forward to seeing the partnership between big and little buddies evolve throughout their week together.

“The really learn a lot from each other,” she said. “You can totally see the bond form as the days progress. It’s really sweet.”

Reading buddies at the Oak Bay branch runs from July 30 to Aug. 3. Registration started June 15 and runs just prior to the start date.

Each library takes up to eight pairs of buddies. Little buddies are defined as children in Grades 2 to 4. Registrants should have at least finished Grade 1.

Teens aged 13 to 18 can volunteer to be a big buddy for a week, or many weeks, throughout the summer.

“It’s a great way for them to get their volunteer hours that they need to have to graduate from high school,” Kendrick said.

“And it’s a very enjoyable type of volunteering to do because they really get a chance to help a little buddy build up their reading skills.”

New volunteers are required to attend a training session, where they learn about their role as a big buddy, what’s expected of them, and tips on how to interact with little buddies.

Training sessions take place July 4 to 6 and 19 to 20 at various GVPL locations. Registration for training sessions must be done separately from reserving a volunteer spot. Teens can register in person at any local branch or online.

For more information, see www.gvpl.ca.

Reading buddies

July 9 to 13 Saanich Centennial, Central Branch

July 16 to 20 Central, Juan de Fuca

July 23 to 27 Nellie McClung, Bruce Hutchison

July 30 to Aug. 3 Esquimalt, Oak Bay

Aug. 7 to 10 Saanich Centennial

Aug. 7 to 11 Emily Carr

Aug. 13 to 17 Nellie McClung, Juan de Fuca