Mentoring at the Rockwell Library Branch

Staff at the Rockwell Library Branch near 9th Street and Woodlawn is hoping to get Wichita State students involved in a mentoring program.

The program would involve students volunteering to come and read to younger children. Students will be leaders of age groups of their choosing and will have the freedom to be creative within their respective groups.

“WSU students that volunteer will help tremendously and it will serve as a great resume builder for them as well,” Rigden said.  

Kids of all ages come to the Rockwell Library throughout the day. Earlier in the day the younger children are engaged in various activities: dancing, reading games, singing and running around playing tag.

“The children come here and they have a blast,” Branch Manager Hellen Rigden said, while trying to keep tabs on the kids in her group. “They are a joy to have here, and we really try to encourage them to have fun and read. We feel if we can get them early on they will be more likely to continue towards the path of literacy.”

In the back of the library, parents were signing their kids up for the summer reading program, which Rigden said has more kids each summer.

Rigden said the summer reading programs are being offered to children of all ages.

“We have a pretty extensive summer reading program. We have a new one we’re calling Baby Bookworms. It goes from 0-2 years, and even though they can’t read yet we have a list of activities we give to parents that encourage reading to them and they can come back and receives a prize.

“We also have our regular reading program for the kids from preschool up to sixth grade, and then we have our teen program called Teen Smarts,” Rigden said.

Rigden said several signup sheets are available toward the back of the library. Once parents sign their children up they will be given a log sheet to keep track of the amount of hours and books read.

“The teen program has already surpassed over 800 hours read, so far. And we’re seeing growth with the younger groups as well. They’re intrigued with vampire and zombie novels,” she said.

One of the parents cosigned Ridgen’s sentiment while she was checking out books for herself.

“Getting involved with the various programs isn’t a difficult process. I was able to sign up for free and my kids loved it ever since. I found myself reading books that I typically wouldn’t read, but because my kids come home excited about a new book they’ve read I decided to check out the books and we talk about them together during diner,” she said while picking up a vampire novel by Anne Rice.

Rigden said summer reading has aided in students’ literary growth. She believes students that abstain from reading recreationally through the summer will become stagnant or begin to lose the skills they developed during the school year.

“We try to encourage reading for recreation and fun, because if you don’t use those skills you will lose them. All of our kids by the end of the summer are reading at their grade level or above. Because of those results parents are pleased, and therefore they speak highly of us and we get more and more kids each summer,” she said.

 As more kids began to enter the library, Rigden talks about the growth of the library program with enthusiasm.

She said through the years in addition to seeing she tremendous growth in students’ literacy level; she’s seen growth in their writing and speaking ability as well.

“Getting children to read early on and realize it can be fun encourages them to read more, they won’t realize their strengthening all these skills they will need later in life,” she said.