On the first day of Power Read last fall, 5-year-old Honor was in tears, grabbing books out of his mentor’s hands as he tried to read.
“He didn’t want any part of it,” says Christine Russell, regional coordinator for Power Read, a partnership between United Way of Central Iowa and Everybody Wins! Iowa. The program pairs volunteer mentors with struggling readers at dozens of area elementary schools, with most reading together over lunch for 40 minutes a week.
Honor’s reading mentor, Scott, was overwhelmed. Christine suggested they create an alphabet book together, with Scott writing each letter and Honor drawing the pictures.
Since then, Honor and Scott have become fast friends, with Honor pointing out details and making up side-plots as they read. Scott describes the kindergartner as curious and energetic. “Even when I don’t know it, he’s learning,” Scott says.
“It has been a complete turnaround,” echoes Christine. “Honor went from passive to totally engaged.”
Recently, Honor has started holding Scott’s hand as they walk down the hallway after lunch. Scott sees their bond as a blessing in both their lives.
“I’ve been able to grow just by being his friend. I hope Honor is learning half as much as I am.”