A Book Buddy celebration for this first-year volunteer

Posted by Sarah Welch on Jun 5, 2018 5:16:54 PM

Deb Bremser volunteers to read with four-year-old students at two child care centers during the school year. Here she shares her Book Buddy experience:

When Isaac and I first started reading together as Book Buddies, he didn’t enjoy the experience. 

book buddy photo-1
Deb Bremser reads with her Book Buddy student Xassas. 

A few times we didn’t even get through the whole book before he would ask, “Can we be done?" He definitely wasn’t interested in any of the learning prompts we were given! To keep him occupied, I started asking him all sorts of questions, and I learned that his favorite cartoon is PJ Masks. Like many kids his age, he could recite the entire plot of the last episode he saw.

I found a PJ Masks paperback online for $2, and I purchased it to donate to the classroom. After we read our assigned book the next week, I took out the PJ Masks book. When we opened it to the first page, Isaac recognized the pictures from the television episode and promptly told me the whole story. I like to think that was the moment he realized that there are endless books out there, and you can always find one about something you are interested in!

Book Buddy makes an impact

Upon entering preschool in fall 2017, Book Buddy students had an average score of 11.4 on the Get Ready to Read Screening Tool. At the end of the year, their average score was 15.9 on this 25-item test. This reflects an average gain of 4.5 points, or 39.5 percent improvement overall!

Book Buddy volunteers read weekly with preschool students to help them enter kindergarten ready to learn. 

Learn more

After that day, I think Isaac decided I was sticking around, and he started looking forward to the days we read together. Suddenly, he was asking who wrote and illustrated each book, and he was predicting what the story was about by the picture on the cover. While he still didn’t like the questions we were given to discuss, he did love naming the characters in the book who weren’t given names, and if he saw a character in the book reading, he would stop me so he could make up a story about what they were reading. I am amazed by how much detail he pulled out of each book’s illustrations!

One day late this spring, I had some extra time because I had only Isaac to read, instead of two students. We spent 30 minutes reading the book over and over and talking about it. He went from not wanting to spend five minutes reading with me last fall to being upset when I had to leave after a half hour in the spring.

What growth!

The next week, he decided to write his own book, and we worked on that during our time together. On the title page, he asked me to write his name twice, as both author and illustrator, so I’m confident that concept was thoroughly absorbed!

This is my first year as a Book Buddy, and I loved the time I spent in the classroom. After we formed a bond, it was obvious that Isaac enjoyed our time together, as well. Isaac spent his time at the end-of-the-year celebration with his other weekly reader. As we were wrapping up, he saw me with another child, and his reaction was priceless, “Hey, I want to party with YOU!”

Back at you, Book Buddy, any time!