Sometimes the smallest efforts go the longest way. Several Donnelly College students recently read aloud to McKinley Elementary School students as part of a service learning project and walked away with newfound appreciation for fostering literacy amongst Kansas City’s youth.
Students from both schools were buzzing with excitement throughout the event. Although some Donnelly students reported nerves before presenting stories to students from kindergarten through sixth grade, everyone was pleased with the results. “It was scary at the beginning, but once you sat down and saw how they’re so focused on you and you saw their little faces — you felt like, ‘Ok, I can do this,’” shared Donnelly student Sandra Castillo. “I was practicing on my daughter every day, and she had a lot of tips for me, but it didn’t prepare me for how amazing the feeling is. It was awesome.” Many McKinley students said that while they enjoy reading, they often don’t have anyone to whom they can read aloud.
“They want to tell us so bad how much they like reading,” Donnelly student Manny Estevez reported. “I tell them the same thing: Stand on the table and scream to read. You can see how they really want to read. They just need somebody to read to.” Although finding a captive audience can be difficult at times for young readers, Castillo maintained that it’s possible — and well worth the efforts. “Sometimes as parents we forget what we have to go through to learn,” she noted. “When I was reading, I [could] totally see that succeeding and making a difference.”