Literary Club Inspires Young Readers

Read-a-thon service event bonds Irvington students and kids over books

By Kelsey Ichikawa | Staff Writer

Toddlers and kindergarteners energetically clambered over the worn staircases in the Fremont Main Library’s Reading Theater on the afternoon of April 19 at Irvington Literary Club’s Read-a-thon service event.  Eventually, they settled down and paired off with high school students who read picture books out loud with them.

Literary Club volunteers provided a cart with a wide selection of books to choose from, and each child was allowed to choose a book that he or she then read with a volunteer.

“The goal was to promote literacy and inspire a love of reading,” said sophomore Steffi Kwok, Literary Club secretary.  “Getting kids interested at a young age would hopefully jumpstart that.”  When asked about how reading aloud changes the dynamics of a book, she answered, “I think it makes kids more interested in reading.  Rather than just ‘Oh, I have to sit down and read something,’ it makes them feel like they have a friend while reading.”

Reading one-on-one also helped volunteers fit their reading styles and books to the literacy level of each child.

The Read-a-thon occurred over a three hour time slot so that children could come in at their leisure.  Some kids ran off after just one story while others sat through several books.  To keep the children engaged, sometimes the volunteers would collaborate to act out the characters and plot of a book.

The volunteers periodically roamed through the stacks in the library’s Children’s Area to bring parents and kids into the theater to get involved. Although the number of children participating in the event fluctuated throughout the afternoon, many parents were happy to make a stop at the Reading Theater to hear the volunteers’ storytelling.

“With the advances in technology [kids have] started spending time on things like video games, which of course give some knowledge, but I think reading is still the ideal way of gaining knowledge,” stated parent Sanjay Rane. “These kinds of events, on top of their normal setup of school or home, offer a different environment will keep their interest.  I like to bring my daughter to these kinds of events.”

“There’s knowledge in these books, and [the kids] are going to get inspired by reading,” sophomore volunteer Saifali Saiyed agreed, “and that boosts their creativity and imagination.”

Captions: [from left to right] Sophomore Steffi Kwok points out a picture to a child.  Sophomore Saifali Saiyed reads aloud a book as a child follows along.