A Bristol, Va. woman combined her love of reading, teaching skills, and children to facilitate a reading program at her church.
Along with church volunteers, Aimee Rasnick kept children in Trinity UMC and the community reading throughout the summer. She said it’s difficult for beginning to readers to retain critical reading skills through the summer.
“If they don’t pick up a book until August, they will lose what they learned and will have to play catch up,” Rasnick said. “We asked how we could serve our community and get them to read.”
Rasnick, director of children and youth ministries, planned a Summer Reading Program, allowing community and church children to borrow one book each week. The child read the book, or got an adult to help, then returned it for a fresh one.
Many children don’t have books at home, she said. Volunteers already “bulked up” Trinity’s library through book fairs and donations.
“Each week, we offered some kind of entertainment to keep them coming back,” she added.
Once a month, the church also hosted an activity. At the end of the summer, they threw a party for participants and families at a nearby water park.
“My church family is so awesome,” Rasnick said. “They believe we have a responsibility to help our community and get children inside our church. We thought outside the box when we did this.”
The Boys and Girls Club in Bristol partnered with the church, bringing 26 children every Monday.
“Each child picked out a book at the church library to leave at the club and they would have fresh reading,” Rasnick said. “The teachers would read to them through the week.”
A year ago, approximately 13 children attended the event in what Ransack called her test run. This year, with help from the Boys and Girls Club, they averaged 40 children. Fifteen volunteers (including youth from the church) listened to children read each week, provided refreshments, and assisted with the program or games.
If Rasnick wondered about the success of the Summer Reading Program, the Boys and Girls club provided validation.
“The most telling thing was the Boys and Girls Club asked if they can be on our list again next year,” Rasnick said.
Of course, the $1,000 grant from Change For Children helped.
“We were excited and thrilled that we were a worthy program,” she said.
Rasnick said the money will be used to pay for entertainment, fun days outside of the facilities, and other expenses.