Four retired and current educators at Grace Lutheran Church in Luverne want children to find love in reading.
The four — Sandy Klosterbuer, Jill Wagner, Lisa Lundgren and Kristi Groth — coordinate the church’s newest outreach program called Grace Reading Buddies.
“We felt it would be a wonderful way to build community outside of school and promote reading and learning, and at the same time enhance reading skills in a relaxed atmosphere,” said Lundgren, a retired elementary teacher.
“Our goal is to inspire in children the joy and lifelong love of reading.”
Open to all levels of readers from emergent to fluent in grades kindergarten through third grade, Grace Reading Buddies meets after school twice a week. Parents schedule reading times online or through the church office.
In two half-hour time slots, adult volunteers meet after school with students one-on-one at the church.
The Grace Reading Buddies idea originated after the church’s summer Bible study gathering.
“We were discussing a variety of ways that we could serve others at our church and in our community,” said Wagner, a current elementary teacher. “At the same time, we were also in the process of re-energizing our church library.”
The new carpet, modern furnishings and the new and donated books led to the Grace Reading Buddies idea.
“We have many retired teachers who are members of our congregation who love to work with children,” said Klosterbuer, a retired teacher. “We felt this was a good way to use our teaching experience to share the love of reading with children.”
In addition to promoting a love of books and the focus on improving reading skills, new friendships and improved confidence have also developed through the Grace Reading Buddies.
“Reading with a buddy makes reading more fun,” Wagner said. “It’s a win-win experience for both the children and the adult volunteers.”
As construction of the library continues, the four are excited about its completion.
“We enjoyed our time together brainstorming ideas, finding new literature, sorting through donations, and the entire planning process of the Reading Buddies program,” said Groth, a current teacher.
Children’s books, along with adult books, can be borrowed from the library for reading at home.
First-grader Anna Beyer (left) chooses a cozy corner at Grace Lutheran Church to read a book with Grace Reading Buddy Lisa Lundgren, a retired elementary school teacher.
Anna Beyer (left) smiles as she reads “Mary had a Little Jam and Other Silly Rhymes” with Lisa Lundgren. The two are part of the Grace Reading Buddies program recently started by current and retired members of Grace Lutheran Church.
Jill Wagner straightens books in Grace Lutheran Church’s library, where she and other church members started Grace Reading Buddies. The buddies program pairs adult volunteers and elementary-aged children together to read twice a week in an effort to instill a love for reading in the students.
The Grace Lutheran Church library contains wide selection of children and adult books. Books can be signed out and taken out of the church for reading at home.