About 30 eager readers poured into the auditorium at nearby Cowan Elementary School for the Bookworm Reading Carnival on April 27. The kindergartners from Janice Remus’ and Sheila Alvarez’s classes, many with their parents following behind, fidgeted as they checked in and were steered to one of several reading stations staffed by Loyola Marymount University volunteers. The auditorium took on a festive atmosphere with colorful decorations, adults and children talking and walking around as they looked for an open seat.
Deftly giving directions in the eye of this literary storm was Allison McFarland, a senior psychology major at LMU who worked as a coordinator and tutor with the Bookworm Project for three years. McFarland organized the carnival as a community-based learning project for her psychology class “Language, Literacy and Community,” taught by Judith Foy, professor of psychology at LMU.
“The kids had such a great time at the carnival,” McFarland said. “It was really a time for parents and kindergartners to realize how much fun reading, crafts and literacy games can be. I hope that this excitement for reading continues and leads to kids becoming great readers and lifelong learners.”
The Bookworm Project was created and is directed by Foy. The project, funded by grants from Verizon, Target and Scholastic Literacy Partners, identifies kindergarten-age children who are having difficulties with the first steps toward literacy. LMU students serve as tutors, working closely with classroom teachers to give the children extra help in developing early reading skills.
McFarland said she will miss working with the project after she graduates. “I always look forward to interacting with the kindergartners during tutoring sessions,” she said. “It's important to me that the kids improved their phoneme awareness and literacy skills, but I am also happy that I was able to show them how fun reading can actually be.”
She said the best moment of her Bookworm experience involved one particular student. “I found out that out one of the kids was selectively mute [a condition in which a person becomes silent in particular situations] and that she couldn‘t pass a literacy test. I worked with her and after a few sessions, she began to talk to me. Then she began talking in class and doing well at reading. Seeing her progress was very exciting.”
Posted May 4, 2010