Grade school children teamed up with high school students on Tuesday to share their love of reading with one another.
“Younger students look up to older students,” explained Erin Venezio, the reading department chair at Lincoln-Way North High School who organized the Future Phoenix Reading Night. “This is a great opportunity for the younger students to see the older students modeling a positive view of reading.”
Dozens of children who will one day attend Lincoln-Way North High School attended the event, gathering in the school cafeteria to read with a teenager. Each child was given a T-shirt to wear that read “Future Phoenix Reader” across the front.
“I love this,” said Karen Faber who brought her three daughters and a family friend to the event.
“I look forward to this every year,” she added.
Lincoln-Way North has hosted a Future Phoenix Reading each year since the school first opened in 2008. The event is held in conjunction with Make a Difference Day.
“We encourage students to make a difference in the life of someone younger by modeling their reading skills,” said Venezio.
To help some of the shyer students feel more comfortable, faculty members brought their dogs in so the youngsters could practice their reading skills on them.
Research shows that if a child is hesitant or shy about reading, a pet – whether it be a dog, cat, gerbil or goldfish – can help them relax, said Lincoln-Way North Principal Michael Gardner.
To reinforce that message, administrators invited Anne Lindley and her certified therapy dog, Mandy, to the Future Phoenix Reading Night to talk to parents about how pets can help children with their reading skills.
“When you put a dog with a child,” something magical happens,” she said. “If you have (a pet), have your child read to him.”
Mandy is a frequent visitor at the Mokena Public Library where she listens to children read.