Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Book Buddy? | Education

The Johnson City Public Library is looking for volunteers for its Book Buddy Program.

Book Buddies are volunteers who go to daycare centers, preschools and kindergartens throughout the Johnson City community to share the love of reading with children.

“It’s my favorite thing to do during the week,” longtime volunteer Kathy Hall said.

Hall said that she goes to preschools and kindergartens in Johnson City Schools and volunteers about 30 minutes of her time to read stories, sing songs and do activities with the kids she visits.

According to Betty Cobb, the JCPL Youth Services manager, volunteers typically only visit one day care center twice a month. However, volunteers like Hall who really enjoy the program may work with multiple centers or may visit more often throughout the month.

The library provides Book Buddies with over 60 themed boxes that they can choose their books and activities from. The materials in these boxes are constantly being updated by the librarians and they are specially reserved for educational use.

While Book Buddies are encouraged to use materials from the themed boxes, they are always welcome to read books from the library’s kids’ section or from their own personal collections.

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Aside from a love of reading, the only other requirements to become a Book Buddy is experience working with groups of young children. Many current Book Buddies are grandparents, retired teachers and early childhood educators. Volunteers read to groups of between 10 and 15 kids, and so having strong skills when it comes to working with kids is important.

This fall, the Book Buddies program is hoping to expand and send volunteers to education centers for school-aged kids. This age range includes kindergarteners all the way to fifth-graders. So if you are more comfortable working with slightly older kids, maybe this is the opportunity for you!

According to Cobb, programs like this are of the utmost importance because, “We all know the more children are read to, the better off they’ll be in school.”

In talking about her experience with the program, Hall said, “My goal with being a Book Buddy is to model that reading is fun.”

She went on to say that reading these books with the kids helps to keep her involved with the schools and it also helps to keep her mind young and aware of what kids are learning.

“There is such joy in reading to a group of kids,” Cobb said. “You can just see their faces light up and you know you are making a huge impression on those kids.”

The library is still looking for volunteers to join the Book Buddy program. For more information or to sign up for the program, call the program coordinator at (423) 434-4362.

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