ASU organization promotes, encourages child literacy

A Barrett thesis has developed into a full-fledged program that has helped over 200 kids learn to read

An ASU volunteer organization that began as a student's assignment is now encouraging child literacy in the Tempe community one book at a time.

Page Turners started as a thesis project for a Barrett, the Honors College student who had a passion for child literacy and education in 2014. The group has expanded since then, and now continues to improve reading skills for over 200 children in the east Valley, according to its website.

The group meets every Tuesday night at the Tempe Public Library and partners volunteers with elementary-aged school children at a 1-to-1 ratio to encourage them to read.

The library is surrounded by many elementary schools in the area, allowing families to enroll students in need of reading comprehension assistance to the Page Turners program in order to improve overall literacy in classrooms. 

According to its website, the organization said it strives to be both an academic and social influence in the lives of the children it works with.

Nicole Greason, the marketing, public relations and publicity manager for Barrett, the Honors College, said the group has already made an impact in its few years on campus.

"Literacy is fundamental,” Greason said. “People need to be able to read and communicate effectively in order to live fulfilling lives.”

Those who have strong skills in reading and comprehension should pass those skills onto others, especially the younger generation, Greason said. She also said Page Turners provides a service that is priceless to both the Tempe and ASU community.

“You have folks out in the community who are willing to spend their time with youngsters to teach them to read, to teach them to comprehend," Greason said. "It’s invaluable to have people who do that and it’s invaluable for the children to receive that kind of gift.” 

While Page Turners has already begun its fall session, it continues to recruit more ASU students regardless of prior experience. Information regarding the organization's spring information session will be posted on its OrgSync page within the next few weeks.

Cassandra "Cassie" Rau, a sophomore double majoring in neurobiology and Spanish, said she was a member of Page Turners last year.

Rau said she joined the group after her freshman-year roommate joined and recommended it to her — she found it to be one of the best parts of her week.

"Reading to kids is just a fun thing to do every week," she said. "I loved it." 

She said she encourages other members of the community to join Page Turners or other volunteer-based organizations because it doesn't take much time to make a difference in the community.

“It’s something nice to do and it’s a rewarding experience,” Rau said. “If you have the time you might as well do it.”

Hailey Tallman, a biological studies sophomore, said Page Turners was one of the most rewarding volunteer programs she's participated in.

She said seeing the child she was partnered with improve in his reading throughout the semester was the best part of the program.

"In the past when I've volunteered I felt like I was just doing someone's busywork or paperwork," Tallman said. "With Page Turners you can actually see how you volunteering can help someone."

Reach the reporter at Kimberly.Rapanut@asu or follow @kimrapanut on Twitter.

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