Read One Book, Change Two Lives

Krista King-Oaks, Boone County (KY) Public Library

Learning is a year-round process that begins and never ends, even when a child has learned to read.’  Regardless of a child’s age, whether they are just starting kindergarten or embarking on the beginning of their senior year of high school, research shows that even reading just a handful of books over the summer months lessens the dreaded “Summer Slump” effect. kentuckyHowever, we all know that reading is more fun when you not only get to choose your own books, but when you can share them with a friend – and that is exactly what makes the library’s Read with a Teen program a smash hit!

Our signature Read with a Teen program has been fighting summer learning loss since 2008.’  Building over eight weeks throughout June and July, the program partners a teen in’ 8th – 12th grade with a younger child going into kindergarten – 3rd grade.’ KY Each week, these “reading buddies” come together at the Library to share books, games and activities in both a group and one-on-one setting. Through the sharing of books, games and activities, the teen helps the younger child maintain or build upon reading skills throughout the summer months.’  Conversely, the teens establish new relationships in the community while honing leadership qualities and earning service hours.

Read with a Teen also provides invaluable lessons to its teen volunteers, most importantly by providing opportunities to gain developmental assets. Created by The Search Institute, the Forty Developmental Assets’‘ ‘ provide a guiding framework in the form of a check list of behaviors and personality traits to help teens grow into healthy, compassionate, and civic minded adults. In addition to families and schools, public libraries are a significant place for a teen to safely interact with their community and gain these critical assets. But don’t take it from me – let our teens tell you how they feel about the Library and Read with a Teen!

A teen new to the program said, “I signed up because I really like working with kids, and I wanted something fun to do over the summer. When I got to the training, I saw a bunch of friends there that I didn’t know were part of the program.”

One Read with a Teen alumni said of her experience last summer, “I am so thankful for the tutoring opportunity that’ Read with a Teen‘ gave me. I’m still working with the family and have enjoyed getting to know them better. I would like to be a teacher so this is a great opportunity for me and I have learned a lot about communicating with children in different ways.”KY2

I look forward to hearing the fun stories that are bound to come out of this year’s Read with a Teen program. More so, I cherish seeing the smiles on the faces of all of those involved, as well as the sense of empowerment that arises in that spark when a child learns they can read and that it can be fun. That is a gift that lasts long beyond a summer.

Krista King-Oaks has worked in public libraries for the past ten years, where she started out as a volunteer tutor and reading buddy while in high school. Krista was a member of the 2012 YALSA protégée class and a recipient of a Dollar General Summer Reading grant. She is currently the Teen Librarian at the Main Library of Boone County Public Library and the co-convener of SWON Libraries Teen Services Special Interest Group. Among her favorite duties is coordinating the Library’s Teen Advisory Group (T.A.G.) which is responsible for the creation of the Read with a Teen service learning project. Krista is always happy to discuss all things teen services and can be contacted at

Photo credits: Krista King-Oaks/ Boone Co. Public Library

One Thought on “Virtual Road Trip: Kentucky

  1. This sounds AMAZING! The teens here are discussing an “Early Literacy Day” with activities and story-telling. I would love to implement a larger scale program like yours, though. Congrats!

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