Alice Berry has been paired with her Read Ahead mentee, Jafeth, for three years. The warm relationship they’ve built around reading together is exemplary, and we couldn’t be more excited to feature Alice on today’s blog!
Why did you choose to be a Read Ahead mentor?
Being a Read Ahead mentor gives me the opportunity to read one-on-one with a child in Public School, and perhaps, help him or her see beyond their limitations to the pleasure they can get from reading books. For one hour a week children can look forward to having a person come just to be with them to listen to their thoughts and share a book. In addition, it is an excellent way to demonstrate some of the life-lessons that parents and teachers are working to instill, and a good example of how the ‘village’ can help in the lives of children.
In your opinion, what is the best part of being a Read Ahead mentor?
For me, the best part of being a Read Ahead mentor is the relationship building that becomes noticeable after a few months of being together, and the relaxed reading environment a relationship creates. Even when you do most of the reading, they can choose the book and may even feel comfortable enough to read a page or a few lines with you. My mentee feels comfortable expressing his ideas and suggestions about what we might do. I find myself exploring ways to engage him based on conversations we’ve had and answers he has given to questions listed in the Read Ahead folder. His ideas lead to projects that he really enjoys and I am happy to see him happy. I get as much from the program as he does.
I 💛 Read Ahead because I get a chance to help a child to see the joy that can come from reading books. The program provides many book choices and also has games and art activities for them to explore.
Do you have a favorite book that you’ve read together so far, or favorite activity that you’ve done?
We like to read Fleishman’s Poems for Two Voices because it is fun to try to read the lines together and read them correctly. It becomes challenging when we have different words to say at the same time.
One favorite activity that is on-going is our ‘Sneaker Project.’ I bring pictures of sneakers from the internet that Jafeth told me about and he cuts them out and pastes them into his Read Ahead Journal. Sometimes he designs his own and colors them or puts a price on them. We’ve filled 45 pages in the journal and have 15 more pages to go.
Can you share a favorite story, anecdote or moment that really resonated with you from your time as a mentor?
My mentee is a smart, talented and out-going young man who enjoys the challenges of reading different books. It is hard to believe that he was quiet and shy when we started three years ago. The Coordinator paired us together and we began by reading bilingual books. At first, he was hesitant about reading out loud, but he agreed to read the English pages and I would read the Spanish pages. His pronunciation of English was good but slow and my pronunciation of Spanish was okay but slow.
After a while, he got tired of hearing my deliberate pronunciation of each word and he said I was reading Spanish too slow! He also said my pronunciation of some words was wrong (I was using my high school Castilian dialect). We argued and I tried to explain but he wasn’t hearing it and decided he wanted to read both the English and the Spanish!!! I was happy he wanted to read and we began to relax with each other. Today it continues to be a fun and enjoyable relationship and he does not read slowly anymore!
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