Bolstered by a $25,000 grant from the American Express Charitable Fund, organizers of the Broward County Library's Prime Time reading program are looking for senior volunteers to read books to preschool children.
Prime Time is an award-winning early literacy program that brings together different generations to encourage reading. And students aren’t the program’s only beneficiaries. Organizers say it also is rewarding for the seniors who participate.
“The children begin to see the joy and fun of reading, and the seniors tell us they're having the time of their lives,” said Nancy Murray, special events coordinator for the library’s Youth Services Administration. “A lot of the children may not go home to someone who reads to them and the children become part of their lives.”
The program began more than 20 years ago when budget cuts forced library staff to stop visiting day care centers. With the centers operating on weekdays, the library turned to seniors to help fill the void. Workshops were set up to train volunteers and teach them how to keep children engaged during readings. The next workshop will take place on Oct. 30. To register, call 954-357-7846.
Once seniors and other volunteers are trained, reading materials are provided and volunteers are assigned to preschools around the county. Organizers say it’s easy to see why the program is such a success.
“It's a joyful experience to walk in a room and have 30 kids cheering for you,” said Lynne Bruno, coordinator of the Prime Time program. “They’re excited to see what you’re going to read and present. It's exciting for everyone.”
Volunteers are asked to make a 10-week commitment to the program, but they can stay on longer if they wish to do so.
Bruno began volunteering more than five years ago and loved the program so much that she eventually expanded on her role as a volunteer, becoming a coordinator.
“I’ve always loved reading,” she said.
For information about the Prime Time reading program, call 954-357-7846.
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