Teenagers team up to read to elementary school children in upcoming library program

Published 8:07 am Monday, January 7, 2019

Studies have shown the correlation between reading and later academic success, but starting out can be a difficult, scary experience for many children. The older generation, however, has begun to step up and assist younger children build that confidence in reading by reading along with them.

At the end of January, the Elizabethton/Carter County Library will start hosting a weekly program called Keep Calm and Read with a Book Buddy every Tuesday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

The program will feature on-call teenagers, who will provide an opportunity to read with or listen to children from pre-K to the second grade.

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Carter County Drug Prevention is sponsoring the program, though the idea originally came from 11th grader Jocelyn Marr.

The social media coordinator for the coalition’s youth board, Marr said she got the idea from her own love of reading and the influence older students had on that passion.

“The kids I am around, sometimes struggle with getting started reading, and they also really look up to older students,” she said. “I felt like it would be a good opportunity for both.”

Jilian Reece, director of Carter County Drug Prevention, said peer-led programs like this are vital to the organization’s goals.

“We know that peer-led strategies are an evidence-based way to do prevention,” Reece said. “Anytime we can utilize students working with each other, it is valuable.”

Marr said she created the program in the hope of inspiring children who might not have the ability or confidence to read on their own.

“I hope that kids will feel like someone supports them and is cheering for them,” Marr said. “I know a lot of kids in our community live in situations that are less than practical, so if we can just show them some love, the mission will be accomplished.”

Reece said the program encourages creating educational programs for Carter County’s youth, and said education as a whole is critical to prevention.

Those interested in obtaining more information about the program can contact Reece via phone or e-mail for a flyer they can distribute to those who need it. Reece said teenagers interested in participating are encouraged to sign up to read to children.

“I hope that kids gain a love of reading and just feel like they are supported,” Marr said.