"Can I read the whole book today?"
11/29/2012 9:24 AM
Thanks to Dollar General Youth Literacy Foundation and Best Buy Children's Foundation, we've brought exciting new technology to the Shining Stars Program--brand new computers and Kindle e-readers! A new wave of avid readers has formed, and we're hearing beautiful quotes like, "Can I read the whole book today?"
With the addition of new and exciting Kindle e-readers, we have already seen a dramatic increase in our Shining Stars’ desire to read. Our Youth Services Supervisor (YSS), Beth, reports that “We have several youth who tend to be somewhat difficult to persuade to start reading, who now ask to read on a Kindle, find a comfy spot, and read their entire required 25 minutes without any problems.” It’s important for youth programs to meet kids where they’re at, and use their interests as springboards to developing new skills. Tablets and smart phones are exciting—they’re new, and they’re popular—although many of the youth we serve don’t have home access to these things, coming from a low income background. We wanted to provide access to e-readers so that our youth could become familiar with new technology, which will be an invaluable career skill later in life, and also so that reading could be framed as something cool and desirable to this younger generation. Beth also explained that youth are encouraged to share their reading wish lists with staff, so that we can provide the most relevant and engaging library possible.
E-readers also have useful features that regular books don’t have, giving them extra appeal to struggling readers. “One of the teen boys in our program who is consistently behind on his reading level has been reading on a Kindle ever since we first implemented them,” YSS Beth says. “He figured out that he can plug headphones in and it will read to him and he follows along. I think that is very beneficial for him especially because he can do it independently so he does not have to worry about being embarrassed about his reading level.” Users are also able to change font sizes, which can make long pages or tiny text much less intimidating. Readers can quickly finish a page, and feel accomplished about that.
The new addition of Kindles have also proven to be a fantastic lesson in sharing. We purchased 5 to use with a group of 15-25 on a daily basis. Youth take turns using them for required reading during tutoring time, and can then sign up to read or play games with them during evening workshops. Since we have a disproportionate number of e-readers to kids, they are given the option to share with a friend or use the e-reader alone. It turns out that our Shining Stars love to share and enjoy reading and games with a friend! YSS Beth recalled one evening when it was Kayla’s* turn to use a Kindle. Another girl, Teresa* did not get a chance to sign up to use one because others had filled up all the time slots before her. Beth asked Kayla if she wanted to play alone or share with Teresa. “Kayla looked at Teresa and said that she would prefer to play with her so they could both enjoy the Kindle together. I was so impressed!” said Beth.
The e-readers are unanimously popular with staff and youth. We are very pleased to have received grants from Best Buy Children’s Foundation and Dollar General Youth Literacy Foundation to improve our literacy programs. We would recommend e-readers for any classroom or youth program, and are glad to have the opportunity to foster a love of reading in so many young people, who otherwise may have written off the value of a good book.
Want to give the gift of reading? Considering making a financial gift, donating an Amazon gift card, or check out any of the books on our Pinterest wish list. Please feel free to call our Development Coordinator, Amanda, with any questions at (414) 389 3845.
*Names changed for privacy.