TORONTO - Pupils at Karaffa Elementary School have been getting a helping hand when it comes to polishing their reading comprehension skills, thanks to the school's long-running Book Buddy program.
The program, which was established in the 1990s, includes pupils reading to volunteers and then being tested on what they've read, according to Cheryl King, Karaffa librarian.
"The volunteers come in and the pupils read to them," said King. "Then pupils take an online test on what they've read in the book. The pupils just love it.
BOOK?BUDDIES — Second-grader Coleman Cooper reads to Virginia Merideth, a Book Buddy at Karaffa Elementary School. The Book Buddy program includes pupils reading to volunteers to help them improve literacy skills.
"We have pupils from kindergarten to fifth grade involved," continued King. "There are even times when the fifth-graders help the (younger pupils)."
Maureen Taggart, district communications coordinator, said the program helps discover pupils' strengths and weaknesses in reading comprehension.
"Every pupil is assigned a level by identifying their independent reading level," said Taggart. "One of the biggest benefits from the program is it re-enforces the strategies that are being taught to our pupils in their reading classes. We're encouraging them to become fluent readers."
When pupils come upon an unknown word, they break it into parts or syllables and look for its meaning, said Taggart. They also are taught the definition of the word, she added.
"Pupils can read on and look at the pictures for clues as to the word's meaning," said Taggart. "They can continue reading and apply some of their own background knowledge."
King and Taggart said the book buddies include retired teachers, high school students, parents, grandparents and high-schoolers from the National Honor Society.
"The program re-enforces what they learn during classes, and when the book buddies come in they can help pupils use those strategies learned in the classroom," Taggart said.
Book buddies include Nancy Lewis, Rhea Vujanovich, Pat Burns, Mary Stratton, Peg Fulton, Kitch Lewis, Ginny Merideth, members of the high school Key Club, Bryant Bigler, Dylan King, Char Reidy, Tonya Porreca, Lori Nurczyk, Jill Fisher, Anita Argentine, Camille Miller and Jean Hanlin.
"We could always use additional volunteers," said King, adding those wishing to become volunteers can call the school at (740) 537-2471.
(Miller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)