Project helps with reading skills NORTHWEST --Taneytown * Union Bridge * New Windson * Uniontown

SHARING BOOKS WITH THEIR BUDDIES

February 11, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

With Valentine's Day drawing near, eighth-grader April Dailey was receiving the undivided attention of two young men, each hanging on her every word as if they were children listening to a bedtime story.

Actually, it was more like a brunch-time story.

"It makes me feel happy to do this for them," said April, one of 12 New Windsor Middle School students reading stories yesterday to children from the Little People's Place day care center in Westminster. "They seem to like it, too."

The middle-schoolers shared about 20 pre-schoolers for the "Book Buddies" program. The tots were brought to New Windsor to listen to stories, make crafts and share an hour with the "big kids."

"It's neat to see how the students relate to the younger kids, but the purpose is really two-fold," said Tina Flynn, the counselor at the school who began the program about four years ago. She now runs it with reading resource teacher Linda Kuhn.

"We wanted to get the reading students involved in some service project for the experience," said Ms. Flynn. "They are also able to improve their reading skills with the practice."

Several students, such as sixth-grader Donny McIntyre, have worked on the project since the beginning of the year. The Valentine's Day program was his third buddy event.

"I like spending time with the little children and reading them stories," said Donny, a Taylorsville resident who said the children make him feel like a big brother. "It helps me practice my reading a little bit, too."

Terry Page, the senior pre-school teacher with the day care center, said the middle-schoolers originally went to the center for the program, but it caused less disruption in the school schedule to bring the tots to the school.

"It is a wonderful opportunity for both sets of children," said Ms. Page, who has been working with the program for three years. "I like it because it is almost the equivalent of the Big Brother, Big Sister program.

"The one-on-one experience is very good for them. Day care doesn't always provide that type of interaction for the children."

Christina Hett, who like April has been in the program for several years, said she was nervous when she started.

"I thought the kids would be bored and want to do something else," said Christina, an eighth-grader who recalled one experience with a restless child.

"Once, while I was reading to a boy, he starting paying attention to his friend in another group and left me," she said, laughing at the memory. "I told his teacher and he came back, but he still kept looking at his friend and giggling."

The programs usually have a holiday theme, Ms. Flynn said. The last one for the year is held around Easter.

The first -- and apparently most popular -- one this school year was the Halloween event in October.

"I was a pumpkin," said James Shriver, an almost-5-year-old from Westminster and three-year veteran Book Buddy. "We went treating to the classes."

"I like Christmas," said Katelyn Magers, a pre-schooler who has been involved with the program as long as James. "We got candy canes and pencils."

After they were read stories chosen from books scattered on the cafeteria table, the pre-schoolers made Valentines using red paper and white paper doilies.

April wasn't sure what any of the books -- including the one she chose, "The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Friendship" -- had to do with Valentine's Day.

"I don't know. I just decided to read it to them," she said. "It does deal with friendship, and that's close to love, right?"

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