In the spirit of a longtime Hayden couple, the Hayden Public Library is hiring teens to help younger kids learn to love reading.
Teachers Mel and Mary Bradley ran a summer camp in the 1960s at their ranch near Hayden. The T~R Ranch-School taught boys reading and ranching skills. The library program, Bradley's Book Buddies, is funded largely by the Bradley family.
Mel Bradley died in 2000. When Mary Bradley died in March 2007, her friend Dave LeBarron and nephew John LeClair decided to honor the pair with the program to help struggling readers.
"I think it's going to be good," said Library Director Ana Lash, who has helped form the program. "I'm really excited about it."
The library is hiring middle and high school students to work as summer reading buddies for kids in first to fifth grade, Lash said. She has six reading mentors and 10 younger students who need extra reading help so far. The program is free. Call 276-3777 for details.
Relatives of the Bradleys and others have donated about $6,500. Family members in Florida, New Jersey and Colorado Springs have donated, Lash said.
"It's just so good," she said. "They're just so supportive. Most of these people haven't even been to Hayden; they just like the idea."
The money will be used to pay the mentors, who will make minimum wage. Each younger student will come to the library and work with their mentor for 30 to 45 minutes a week, Lash said. The library will train the mentors, probably in the next week, she said. The mentors will play games, use flash cards and read with the younger kids.
All lessons will take place in the library.
"They're not there to be reading specialists," Lash said of the mentors. "They're there to make it fun."
Youths who are interested in tutoring positions can pick up applications at the library. Lash said the program is good not only for the young readers, but also for the tutors, who might be experiencing their first job. They must provide references and undergo a casual interview, she said. Younger kids can sign up for reading help.
LeBarron said they want the program to continue if it goes well. The library is looking for sponsors and more funding.
"To me, the more we can get done, the better," LeBarron said.
The Hayden library also is promoting two standing programs.
The youth summer reading program starts at 11 a.m. today with Totally Kids and at 11 a.m. Thursday with everyone else. This summer's theme is "Catch the Reading Bug," Lash said. The library will provide reading logs, incentives and activities each week.
The library also will choose a reader of the week for the next eight weeks, and that child will be featured in the Hayden Valley Press.
The library will have cooking activities at 11 a.m. Fridays. This week, participants will make grasshopper pie, Lash said. All activities are free.
The library's book discussion group is trying to rustle up new members this summer, Lash said. The group meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month and will meet next week to discuss what to read next, Lash said. Refreshments will be provided.
- To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail email@example.com