A group of seniors takes time to read to school children

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 14, 2002

Outfitted in clothes which are customary for children, such as overalls and baseball hats worn backwards, the group of retired women

travels to classrooms at elementary schools in the Albert Lea School

District to read books to the students in hopes of increasing

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interest in reading.

“When you read you can go any place in the world and meet all sorts

of people,” Joan Muschler said to a classroom of kindergarten students at Sibley Elementary school as she introduced her group before they started reading Wednesday afternoon.

The group of retirees is from the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program’s Reader’s Theater. They are putting on a reading theater program in hopes of sparking interest in reading.

The book they read “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad

Day,” is a favorite among the kindergarten students and first- and second-graders they read it to.

When the women get up in front of the children to do their theater presentation they each read the parts of different characters from the book. While they

don’t act the scenes out physically, their voice inflections are

enough to keep these youngsters glued to the action.

The story takes the reader through the day of Alexander, a young

child, who is having a rough day. After each section he mentions this

fact by saying “I’m having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” By the end of the presentation the children are so engaged that they are saying the words along with the reader’s group every time they are read.

The children seem to love it, and so do the adults.

“I think it’s just wonderful to have a group of volunteers come

to school and get kids interested in reading,” said Sibley principal

Stephan Lund. “I think it’s great.”

For the Wednesday volunteer group at Sibley it was the first time

they’d performed. A few other groups have done presentations at other

schools in the area, but RSVP director

Beth Spande said the program

is just beginning in the Albert Lea area.

“We are inviting any seniors who would like to volunteer to sign up,” she said. “We’d like to see it expand so we can do more shows for these kids.&uot;

The children seem to enjoy it greatly. After each presentation they

cheered boisterously and shouted, “Thank You!”

“It’s a lot of fun,” Lilah Aas, a member of the Reader’s Theater group, said.

“Especially since these kids are so cute.”