Program fosters kids’ love for literature

Published 12:09 pm Friday, March 7, 2014

Middle school student reads to elementary school children as part of the Riverchase Middle School's literary program. (Contributed)

Middle school student reads to elementary school children as part of the Riverchase Middle School’s literary program. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—After much hard work, planning and initiative, 13 students from Riverchase Middle School partnered with Valley Elementary School students to launch a literary program on Feb. 28. The program aims to mentor and inspire a love of reading among young children, especially those who do not have access to age-level books at home.

The Riverchase students were the driving force behind the program, which came about as part of the Destination Imagination service challenge led by eighth grade science teacher Trish Bogdanchik.

“The students researched and found that when kids read a lot, they perform better across all subjects,” said Bogdanchik.

This discovery inspired the middle school students to create a mentoring program centered on instilling a love of reading.

The endeavor took extensive planning by the Riverchase students. They sponsored a book drive collecting more than 100 books, put together a pitch for Valley Elementary School principal Linda Campanotta and invited Pelham Mayor Gary Waters to attend the event.

“They did it all themselves,” said Bogdanchik. “It took them about a month to get it all ready.”

On the day of the event, the middle school students were paired with elementary school children with similar interests. Each Riverchase student arrived at Valley Elementary School with a book to read, discuss and give to their elementary school partner.

Campanotta described the experience as “really beneficial,” as the older students engaged the younger ones with the material, discussing main ideas, characters and plot development.

“It was important to see the older children reading and see them as role models at this young age,” said Campanotta.

Both teachers and students responded positively to the event. Campanotta said the faculty members were “really excited,” and Bogdanchik said the Riverchase students left feeling “very proud of themselves,” and the Valley Elementary students felt “really special.”

Going forward, Bogdanchik hopes the program will foster a mentoring relationship between the older and younger students. Bogdanchik and Campanotta confirmed that there are plans to continue the program, and the schools are working to build out a calendar.