LSU College of Human Sciences and Education students and faculty showed elementary students that reading is exciting for all ages. Volunteers from the University read to students from Buchanan Elementary School from Feb. 27 to March 1 to celebrate Read Across America.

Read Across America, sponsored by the National Education Association, promotes reading motivation and awareness and encourages every child to enjoy reading. The program is celebrated on March 2, the birthday of children’s author Dr. Seuss.

All students and faculty within the college were invited to participate in the program by going to Buchanan

Elementary and reading books to students in grades pre-K through fifth. Over 30 students and faculty members volunteered over the three-day period, including the School of Education Interim Dean Roland Mitchell and School of Education Director F. Neil Mathews.

College of Human Sciences and Education Director of Advocacy and Engagement Renée Boutte Myer said the program has even attracted volunteers from outside the college.

“They just heard about it, showed up and are coming back to volunteer again because they had so much fun,” Myer said.

The University has partnered with Buchanan Elementary for Read Across America for three years. Myer works with Buchanan Elementary librarian Michael Guess to coordinate specific times when volunteers can read to students in each of Buchanan Elementary’s seven grade levels.

Guess said Buchanan Elementary’s partnership with the University has greatly benefited the students and their families.

“It means a lot not only to the kids, but also to the community,” Guess said. “Parents have the chance to come and see their kids in the classroom having some fun and what we do as a school to accommodate their needs.”

Students were encouraged to dress up during themed days during the week. Students could wear silly socks on Tuesday, dress as their favorite book character on Wednesday and wear Dr. Seuss hats on Thursday.

Guess said Buchanan Elementary prioritizes its students’ reading and writing skills.

Besides the school’s partnership with the University for Read Across America, Buchanan Elementary students participate in a range of activities, including book fairs and the Accelerated Reader program, to develop their reading comprehension and language skills.

School of Education instructor and Elementary Homes program supervisor Julie Rollins said it’s imperative that students develop reading skills because reading is the fundamental basis for all subjects. Reading aloud to children is even more beneficial because it helps children develop their language and comprehension skills.

Rollins said children must hear a word three times to imprint it into their memory. Through consistent oral reading, children can quickly learn many words and build their vocabularies.

“Reading aloud is just great all the way around,” Rollins said. “I can’t think of one negative aspect of reading aloud. It’s one of the most important things we can model for children and encourage them to do.”

Student volunteers from the University were excited to act as role models by reading with the Buchanan Elementary students. Kinesiology senior Joshua Growden read to a pre-K class at Buchanan Elementary and enjoyed it so much he volunteered again the next day.

“It’s a cool opportunity to hang out with some kids and have some fun reading to them,” Growden said. “The book I chose for the pre-K class had some great pictures, so they loved it. Seeing their reactions was really cool.”

Kinesiology senior Jacob Shipper also enjoyed his volunteering experience, especially because of the impact it had on the students he read to.

“It was fun seeing all the kids when you walk in the room and they’re all excited,” Shipper said. “You might think reading a book to a couple of kids isn’t really that much, but you can see that it really means something to them.”

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