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Getting Involved: MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR COMMUNITY

Adults Share Joy of Reading With Children

October 26, 1993|REBECCA BRYANT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Every Tuesday, Lyn Anderson drives to Horace Mann Elementary School in Glendale to read to her grandchildren--all four or five dozen of them.

Anderson hears cries of "Hi, Grandma Lyn!" when she carries her bag full of books into first- and second-grade classrooms.

Anderson is one of 13 Library Grandparents who read to children in kindergarten through second-grade classrooms in Glendale and at the Glendale Public Library.

The library program, called Grandparents and Books, started 1 1/2 years ago, said Carolyn Flemming, the library's children's service coordinator. The program expanded to the schools at the start of this academic year, only a few weeks ago. So far, volunteers read in 33 classrooms in nine schools across Glendale.

"What do we do when Grandma's here?" teacher Janet Buhl asked her first graders. "We put on our . . . "

"Listening ears!" the children screamed.

Soon Anderson had the children, whose first languages range from Thai to Vietnamese to Spanish to Armenian, singing a story in French.

They sat on the tops of their small tables, swinging their feet back and forth as Anderson read "The Witch Had an Itch," about a young witch named Grimelda who found out she was allergic to evil magic and became a good witch.

Through the volunteers--who don't really have to be grandparents, or even senior citizens--children learn that reading isn't just something you do for a grade in school, that it can be fun and rewarding, said Flemming.

"It helps to encourage them to go to the library because that's where she's from and where she gets the books from," Buhl said as Anderson read about the Halloween adventures of an alligator named Danny.

"Aren't they a cute bunch of kids?" Anderson said after her 30-minute session in Buhl's class. The Glendale resident rested in the teachers lounge before her next class began.

"I feel like I was born in a library. I've always loved books," said the great-grandmother, who politely declined to reveal her age. "It just does something to me every time I hear there's 30% illiteracy. It just doesn't seem possible. So I do whatever I can to change the statistics."

Most of the children in Anderson's second class are from Armenia, said their teacher, Keghanoush Bairamian. Most have been in this country for less than two years.

The second-graders greet Anderson with the same smiles as the younger children did. To them, she is "Nana Lyn."

"In our culture we have special feelings for grandparents," said Bairamian. "They live with the family and are treated with respect and love. And of course many (students) miss their grandparents who are not here."

The children sat cross-legged on the floor, in a semicircle around Anderson as she looked over her glasses and prompted them on an old standby.

"Old MacDonald had a . . . "

"Dog!" "Chicken!" "Cow!" "Duck!"

"E-I-E-I-O."

For more information, call Flemming at (818) 548-3999.

Other volunteering opportunities:

The Glendale Public Library needs volunteers to help shelve children's books in the Young People's Room and to help with other tasks. Call Mindy at (818) 548-2035.

Burbank's Retired Senior Volunteer Program is seeking volunteers to work in Bloodmobiles (no contact with blood). Training is provided. Volunteers are asked to work five to 10 hours a month. Drivers are also needed on an on-call basis to transport people to doctors. Ask for Dee Call at (818) 953-9503.

The Valley Storefront of the Jewish Family Services needs volunteers to teach senior citizens one hour a week. Classes will be in art appreciation, Shakespeare, literature, Yiddish, embroidery and other topics. Call Judy Raffel at (818) 984-1380.

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