PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Every Friday at a school in Aston, students sit down to wrap up the week with a book. Their reading partners are senior citizens who volunteer their time.
The school says it’s not only fun, it’s valuable.
Every Friday, you’ll find Abbie Rowley on the floor. She travels from Swarthmore to read to some of the smallest students at Chester Charter School for the Arts.
“They seem to light up when we come in and it’s a joy to see,” Abbie said.
Abbie is not the only one. Volunteer Elsa Lichtenberg is reading one of the classics, “Frog and Toad Together,” with a student.
“I love reading to kids, and I love this school,” Elsa said.
It’s not always easy for senior citizens to travel to volunteer. Kendal-Crosslands Communities, a retirement community in Chester County, is helping Elsa and other seniors connect with the school.
“I think residents from Kendal get the satisfaction of knowing that they’re helping,” said Philip DeBaun of Kendal-Crosslands Communities.
Some Fridays there are more than 40 volunteers, most of them senior citizens, to help the 50 kindergarteners. The program has a nickname: the Reading Beach Club.
“I love the energy and the happiness of the children and the engagement of their teachers,” said Peggy Brick.
Akosua Watts, the head of Chester Charter School for the Arts, says the club is making a difference in test scores.
“Now we’re moving to a place where we’re seeing kindergartners move to first grade where 85 percent are on grade level and reading.”
That makes them ready for the next book.