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Sagehens Engage with Reading to Kids | Eric Martinez

November 1, 2013

Eric Martinez is a senior at Pomona College studying Environmental Analysis in Geology.

On the brisk, sunny morning of October 12, 2013, a group of Pomona College students congregated outside the Smith Campus Center for some mini-bagels and orange juice. In just under an hour, they would set out on the mission of lifetime: to read to kids. Reading to Kids, an LA non-profit, is a “grassroots organization dedicated to inspiring underserved children with a love of reading, thereby enriching their lives and opportunities for success in the future”. Sagehens, Engage!, one of the many programs offered through the Draper Center, partnered with Reading to Kids to offer a unique opportunity to the Pomona College community at Esperanza Elementary School.

After checking-in and running through a brief orientation, we were ready to begin reading. Our volunteers were scattered into many grades ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. Personally, I was placed into a fifth grade reading group with two other readers. We were reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare, following the Reading to Kids October theme of “Halloween, Mysteries, and Magic”. We were given a few more tips and a few minutes later, we were off to meet our kids.

My group was an energetic bunch, with lots of laughter and charisma. While we initially struggled to have our kids settle down, they were soon so tangled by the mystery of the book we were reading that they were curious to hear what would happen next. Before we knew it, we had already read an entire chapter of our novel and were then ready for arts and crafts. From masks to flowers to bracelets, our group let its creativity flow before finally heading down to the auditorium to catch a magic show and say farewell.

Reading to Kids presented our group with an excellent opportunity to engage with young students. It was exciting to see the students we were reading to connect with, reflect on, and analyze the books we read. From the kindergartener who used the pictures in a picture book to predict what would happen next to the fifth graders who used word context to help define an unfamiliar word or phrase, Reading to Kids allowed us to establish mutually beneficial partnerships that allowed Pomona College students to learn about elementary school education while engaging the students in the program with enticing readings and fun arts and crafts.

All the participants on the October 12th trip truly enjoyed their experience with Reading to Kids. As such, we will be partnering with the organization once more on Saturday, November 9th. The theme for the month of November is “sports, fun, and games”, and also happens to be College Day, a competition between all the readers to see which college or university has the most college spirit. College day also serves as college exposure mechanism for the students at the elementary schools we read at. Any Sagehen interested in participating can email us for further information and to sign up for the trip.

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