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Volunteer reader gets kids to the next page

Although shortened attention spans lead to a less than avid audience, volunteer reader Rich Lyon says it doesn't hurt his feelings.

"I'm not offended if they get up and walk away," said Lyon, who is one of several members of Noontime Kiwanis who have signed up for 45-minute reading sessions to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds at Colvill Family Center.

"It's not a chore at all," Lyons said Wednesday after reading to a group of 3-year-olds. "I learned some things too," he continued. "I learned that a joey is a small kangaroo and what a dogface butterfly is."

Lyon said he has read to Colvill students before, but usually to older kids.

"With the older class, they let you read the whole book," Lyon said. "Sometimes it's fun to leave a word out or skip a page to see if they catch it."

He added that most of the children know the story well enough to pick up on the omission right away.

Lyon said the Noontime Kiwanis club's volunteer reading effort is something that started years ago with Henry Fritz but has recently been started up again.

He and other volunteers are recruited by Katie Auge, an AmeriCorps volunteer for Goodhue County who works out of Colvill Family Center.

"My position promotes early literacy with young children," said Auge, a recent graduate of Hamline University with degrees in sociology and elementary education.

"Colvill Family Center has a special relationship with the Red Wing Kiwanis," she added. "The Red Wing Noontime Kiwanis has generously supported the purchasing of books for our Reading is Fundamental program, also known as RIF.

"During the year, we have three book distributions for each preschool class. Each student is able to pick out their very own book to take home and keep," Auge said.

Her position is part of the AmeriCorps READS (Reading Early Achieves Development Success) Initiative, which is a partnership between Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, AmeriCorps, ServeMinnesota and the Early Childhood Initiative.

One of Auge's primary responsibilities in the program is to train teachers, day care providers and parents in the new "Read Together, Talk Together" reading kits, she said.

"The kits and training will provide additional literacy opportunities for children and increase the likelihood of kindergarten success in Goodhue County. The grant provided an opportunity to purchase the kits and to give direct training to personnel on how to use them," she added.