Maybe I should blame the cable company for charging so much that we gave up television five years ago. Or I could put the fault squarely on the shoulders of my neighbor, the reading specialist that gave us some unique ideas to get excited about the written word. Should I put most of it on our three local public libraries that have made it so convenient and inexpensive to make reading a compulsive habit shared by all at the Bushman abode?
So it is without a beat that my daughter replied “Duh, mom, I’d rather help somebody learn to read” when I gave her choices for volunteering. “I’m two grades above in my reading! I could really help!” (Judging by the test scores that The Mighty Signal reprints periodically many other children are succeeding and we all have something to brag about.)
We had read with interest Michele Buttleman’s column on volunteer choices in the SCV awhile ago as well as the weekly request for help with Operation Read at both local Camp Scudder and Camp Scott.
Now I will stop here just to say that I am not a complete blond. I figured that they might not accept a minor to tutor other minors, so I offered to take the training as well and “shepherd” Samantha and tutor alongside with her. They would get two volunteers for the price of one! That didn’t seem completely unreasonable.
I also did a little Internet research to learn about the Operation Read program (http://probation.co.la.ca.us/operation_read2001/operationread_bro.pdf) and was rewarded to read that the children staying at these residential camps for two months average 1.3 grade level improvement through tutoring.
I called the phone number on the PDF file and the one listed in our newspaper. It took a couple of calls back but I finally got a volunteer that assured me a minor would not be accepted. I wasn’t surprised but we were still disappointed.
I called two of our three local libraries offering my “volunteer reader”; much like the retired senior that I wrote about more than five years ago in this newspaper that so impressed my daughter. Again I offered to shepherd her but again we were turned away. One librarian tried to quell my request quickly just by the fact that she couldn’t give the twenty or so hours needed to fulfill a volunteer requirement for college preparatory. I think she was shocked to hear I had a ten-year-old that wanted to volunteer just for the love of reading! That and she must have somehow guessed that I was a blond.
Our local Newhall librarian knew my daughter from our frequent visits (We had bragging rights as new Friends of The Libraries) and thought her interest in a starting a Young Readers Book Club to be a good one but with most kids in after-school sport activities didn’t think there would be much hope.
My daughter’s school would only accept her when she entered Junior High. Libraries further away wanted her older. And it was there dear reader that I had to quit.
But, pushing the edge of the envelope I thought…if I wrote this very earnest request in our local paper somebody would want us! Maybe the Senior Center? But the last time I tried them nine years ago I offered to deliver meals if I could bring Samantha along in her car seat. No luck with that either! Jeez!
Could it take a Reader Meter question: Does anyone think a minor would benefit from volunteering? What percentage would say yes? How many would say no?
How many, after a few years of trying would wait for it to be a college requirement and not a child’s true interest? And what, dear reader, would be the lesson in that?