by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
We are going to begin offering homework and reading help on Mondays at the library. A Minnesota Reading Corps tutor who is working in an area elementary school will be available in the Litchfield Library’s children’s area between two and four p.m. on most Mondays beginning in December. For the kids in Litchfield schools, this will be just a short window after school, but homeschooled students and ACGC students will have a little more time to work with. Our volunteer is also available at the Grove City public library from ten to noon on Mondays when ACGC isn’t in session.
Students in elementary and middle school are welcome to stop in during this time for practice with reading or help with any kind of homework. They do not have to be struggling readers; our homework help time is open to anyone. High school students who need help with reading or writing-related homework can also meet with our tutor, who has taught elementary and middle school in the past. At this point, we plan for it to be a drop-in program, but we may start signing kids up for particular times if we get a big response.
Minnesota Reading Corps is an AmeriCorps program. AmeriCorps was founded in 1993 as part of the Corporation for National and Community Service. It is sometimes called “the domestic Peace Corps”. According to their website, the volunteers are mostly full-time, and they typically make a service commitment of 10 months to a year.
Minnesota Reading Corps is the largest state AmeriCorps program in the country. They provide trained literacy tutors to schools for children age three through grade three. Their tutors work in Head Start classrooms, preschools, and elementary schools throughout the state. The goal is to help students who are just below proficiency in reading become successful readers by the end of third grade.
Why third grade? It’s the year when students switch from learning to read to reading to learn. Multiple studies have found that students who are behind in reading skills in third grade begin to fall behind their peers, because reading is an essential way that students learn science, history, and other subjects. A study released in 2011 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
The Reading Corps follows a research-based program to help kids who are just a little behind in reading skills catch up so that they can be successful in school in the years to come. We are happy to work with this valuable program to bring their trained tutors into our libraries.