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Reading Partners Work Represented by
Paper Chain at McIntyre Library

RELEASED: Dec. 11, 2006

EAU CLAIRE — If you want to see a visual representation of the difference University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student volunteers are making in the lives of some local children, just visit the basement of McIntyre Library. A paper chain on loan from the Eau Claire Area School District Reading Partners Program is hanging in the library's Instructional Media Center, and each link in the chain represents a book that a UW-Eau Claire student has shared with a child in the program.

Just one of the local programs that UW-Eau Claire students can volunteer with to satisfy the university's service-learning requirement, Reading Partners primarily targets children who are socio-economically disadvantaged, part of a minority, or from homes where English is not the first language. Some students go into the children's homes to read with them, and some meet with their partners right in the Instructional Media Center. The aim of the program is to foster a love of literature and reading and help students with fluency and reading comprehension.

Sophomore Sarah Loew, Pulaski, who majors in French with a minor in teaching English to speakers of other languages, volunteered with Reading Partners for the first time this semester. She said it has been one of the best academic decisions she's made.

"No matter what kind of day I've had, I always look forward to meeting with my 'reading buddy' later in the afternoon," said Loew. "I am a bookworm, and there is nothing more relaxing and entertaining than exploring a new book with my partner. She has insights about stories that I, as an adult, would never perceive, and I really enjoy it when she tells the story back to me in her own words."

According to Lucianne Boardman, coordinator for the Reading Partners program at UW-Eau Claire, the ECASD/UW-Eau Claire Reading Partner Program will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in the spring. She said the program typically has around 300 volunteers throughout the year and more than 250 children referred to the program. Right now, she said, there are more than 205 partnerships taking place and the paper chain in the IMC represents just a sampling of the books read.

"The program's focus is having fun with books — it isn't a tutoring program — so we have many volunteers that aren't in education," said Boardman. "We distribute books to the children through generous contributions from First Book, Phi Kappa Phi and the American Association of University Women and throughout the year there are a number of literacy celebrations on campus and in the community which also add to the children's excitement about reading."

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NW

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