Reading Buddies happens every Thursday afternoon at Nevis Elementary School. If you were there, you would see 18 adults conversing in the hallway prior to the designated time.

At the sound of a chime, they meet their first grade Reading Buddies at the doors of their classrooms. The children are lined up and ready to go with books in hand.

As they walk the hallway, the chatter of young voices blends with the adults’ lower tones. Arriving at their “reading room,” some find small chairs, some sit on the floor, others opt for adult-sized folding chairs, and everyone has a space that is their own for the next 30 minutes.

What can you accomplish in 30 minutes, you ask?

Reading Buddies works! Connecting first graders with adults who care about children – people who are eager and willing to spend one on one time with them – is a success story every year. The Reading Buddy program has been at the Nevis School for over 10 years, and typically engages 18 to 20 first grade students with the same number of adults. The season is from October through April, with weekly half-hour meetings. There is also a list of subs who are available if the regulars have a conflict.

In the beginning, students struggle with sounds and sight words, but with the help of adults who can make reading fun, amazing things happen. By the end of the season, first graders are choosing to read books with not just a few words, but with a whole array of challenges that they can meet. Many of them become familiar with reading chapter books, a huge accomplishment for first grade students.

If you are interested in becoming a Reading Buddy, contact the Kinship of Park Rapids office at 732-0058 or online at kinshipparkrapids.org.

Marilyn Kaping coordinates the Kinship’s Reading Buddies Program in the Nevis School. Kinship also sponsors a Reading Buddies Program for first graders at the Park Rapids Century Elementary School.