Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guest Post by Volunteer, Nicole DiCiccio

Being relatively new to Los Angeles, it had been recommended to me that I join to find others in my area with similar interests. I did just that, and am so glad I did, as it has led me to this amazing organization, Reading to Kids!

I was a bit nervous and unsure of what to expect prior to my first adventure at Alta Loma Elementary. Upon arrival, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the number of fellow volunteers, enthusiasm, positive vibes, and organization. Check-in was a breeze, and there were even some yummy bagels to help settle any nerves. The new volunteer orientation provided all of the necessary info and answered every question. I was feeling confident before I even saw a child!
At our November Reading Club we gave away college spirit items, like these cute UCLA Bears!
The third grade was a personal favorite of mine, as it was the year I was finally in the same class as my best friend, got my first puppy, and started writing short stories. Needless to say, I was pretty pleased when I discovered that I had been assigned to read to third graders at Alta Loma. I had purposely not specified a grade when registering, as I wanted to be flexible and available wherever the need was greatest, but I took this pairing as a sign that it was exactly where I was meant to be. Our third grade coordinator matched readers and we introduced ourselves to our partners. He also provided guidelines about what to discuss with the kids when reading our book, and ideas for our arts and crafts time.
Minutes later, we were outside with more than a hundred kids who were shrieking with excitement. My reading partner, Ed, and I marched our kids into the assigned class room and settled right in. We took turns reading our book, which was not a typical story by any means. It was called The Math Curse, and was full of more math problems than narrative. Not a math whiz myself, I feared the kids would lose interest quickly. They proved me wrong, remaining engaged and eager to solve the math curse with every page we turned.
Crafts from our November Reading Club
At the conclusion of the story, our happy little group set out to make our own clocks out of paper plates, crayons, and construction paper. The kids loved it, got super creative, and it provided us with a nice time to chat as we worked. Ed and I got educated about the typical life of a third grader, learning everything from what time they wake up in the morning, to what their favorite school lunch is, to recent movies they had seen. But the best part was the genuine excitement that poured out from each child when they collected their own book to take home and add to their collection - they all truly love reading.
Thinking back on my Saturday morning at Alta Loma, I can't imagine a better first experience for a newcomer. I have already recommended this program to friends of mine. and I cannot wait to get back and read with this great group of kids. It may just be possible that I had more fun than they did- it really was my favorite Saturday morning in Los Angeles!
 -Nicole DiCiccio, Volunteer

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