By Christianne Salisbury
BYU students are reading children’s books, looking at pictures and helping elementary school students learn to read.
Karyn Narayan, 26, a junior from Waipanu, Hawaii, majoring in history, brought a national work-study mentoring program to BYU this year.
America Reads Challenge was issued by President Bill Clinton Aug. 37, 1996, to ensure that every child can read independently by the end of the third grade.
College students are given the opportunity to manage tutoring programs and provide tutoring for children.
Narayan, director of American Reads at BYU, said the program is tutoring at two elementary schools.
“It’s a great service-learning opportunity. You get to learn tutoring skills and different ways to help children read books,” she said.
The program targets children from kindergarten to the third grade.
“Children who don’t read by the fourth grade don’t usually succeed in school and then become unsuccessful in life,” Narayan said.
According to the Corporation of National Service’s Web site, 40 percent of children read below the accepted level on national reading assessments.
“America Reads tries to promote a love of reading so children will start reading for leisure,” Narayan said.
Professor Jim Backman, the director of the Jacobsen Center for Service and Learning, said the program was brought to BYU’s attention because of achievements in that area at other universities.
University of Utah, Salt Lake Community College, Westminster and Weber State have implemented the program in the last couple of years.
Because BYU tries to avoid having too many federal programs, BYU did not institute the program earlier, Backman said.
The program is not currently using any federal funds. Utah State and multicultural funds are used to run the work-study program, he said.
The financial aid office is looking into applying for federal aid in the future but nothing is certain, Backman said.
“We owe it to our community, and it is no cost to the university,” he said.
Currently the program can only utilize ten students who must be multicultural students or graduated from high school in Utah and qualify for a Pell grant.
Natolie Arellano, 20, a junior from Orem, majoring in human biology and psychology who tutors for the America Reads program, said some elementary students have a hard time getting used to reading everyday.
Arellano tutors second and sixth graders everyday after school.
Although the program presents challenges such as personality conflicts among the children, getting students into a routine and finding stories that are fun to read is very enjoyable, Arellano said.
“I enjoy seeing reading become a more important part of their lives,” she said.
Student tutors use different techniques to help students learn to read such as visualizations, phonics, and questioning depending on the program they are using, Arellano said.
Tutors are effective because they work in small groups, usually three to four students, she said.