Books in hand, the kids practically bounce into the room at Hermantown Elementary School. Carlin has a funny chapter book, Cody chose rhyming poems, and Kylie enjoys non-fiction — especially science.
Reading Pals was created by the Northland Foundation's KIDS PLUS Program in 2012 as an enhancement to its AGE to age: bringing generations together initiative. More than 2,500 preschool through sixth grade children and 450 older-adult “pals” in eight communities have spent time reading together.
Friendships make it fun. Children gain extra adults in their lives who can listen and help them with their reading. Older adults ages 55+ get to share their experience, talents, and time — the kind of one-on-one time that busy parents and teachers don’t always have to spare.
Reading Pals’ older-adult volunteers report that the program increases their sense of purpose and decreases isolation. Teachers report that students become more confident readers, build self-esteem, and feel special.
Carlin, a fourth grader this year, shared: “My favorite things are improving my reading for the school year and getting to be with my friends.”
Friends come in all ages.