Four times a week, the Abington Library is filled with teens in bright green shirts, reading with younger children.
The Abington READS! program is celebrating and wrapping up its 10th year of encouraging young people to read together.
“They sit one-on-one for about an hour,” Linda Jones, reference and young adult librarian, said.
Both teens and children sign up to come to one of four hour-long session held each week. Teens are paired with a young reader, and they pick out books from a selection of picture and chapter books. The pair then takes turns reading to one another—building the reading skills and enjoyment of the younger readers.
Teens in sixth through 12th grade may volunteer as readers, and children in kindergarten through second grade are eligible to be read to, and to practice reading.
Being read to, and reading to their teen partner, helps the youth retain reading skills they gained over the past school year.
“It’s mainly to help the younger kids keep their reading level up over the summer,” Jones said.
This year, Jones said about 100 teens and 100 children signed up for the program. The sessions take place Mondays and Tuesdays. Abington READS! typically runs for six weeks. This summer, it ran for seven.
“It usually starts the week after school gets out,” Jones said.
On busy nights, Jones said over 90 children show up.
“They can go through six or seven books in an hour,” Jones said.
Now that the program is 10 years old, some familiar faces have appeared among the teen volunteers.
“Many of them started as little children themselves, being read to by past volunteers,” Jones said.
There are sometimes more teens waiting to read to youth than there are children to be read to. Jones said that is why the program has children sign up for a reading session ahead of time.
“We try to keep it as one-on-one as we can,” said Jones.
Abington Senior High School senior Elisa MacColl, 17, has volunteered with Abington READS! for the past three summers.
“I thought in the summer it would be fun to help them read,” said MacColl. “I liked volunteering with the kids.”
Camille and Candice Holt, both 14, are volunteering as readers for the third year.
“We like helping out,” said Camille.
The Holts, both incoming freshman at Abington Senior High School, said they plan to volunteer again next summer.
Jones said library patrons often comment about how nice it is to see the teens and children reading together.
“It’s such a unique program,” she said.
Abington READS! wrapped Aug. 2, but those interested in participating next year should check in with the library next spring. Click here for more information.