Teen Interview with Library in Ontario, Canada

This past Monday, I spoke with Cathy Thomson, who helps manage Toronto’s Leading to Reading program in CanadaMaddieThey’ve had this program for over twenty- five years and it all began with a small community who believed that children’s literacy was vital and therefore needed help growing.  I was deeply impressed with all she had to say, regarding their teaching methods.  A central idea in their tutoring program is that children should learn what they want to learn about, so if a child likes the solar system, then they can read books pertaining to space.  They don’t want to force kids into doing something they don’t have an interest in, and instead let the children lead, by allowing them to do what they love.  The library also wants the children to have someone they can trust and be comfortable learning with.  I thought this was a terrific idea since it motivates children not only to learn, but have a passion for it.  A lot of children today detest reading because “it’s boring”, so I think this principal idea should be implemented in more areas.  Ms. Thomson said that  they spend time writing, reading, and playing literacy games during each session, and these students have improved their grades at school because of the Leading to Reading program.

The Leading to Reading program benefits children as well as the teen tutors.  The goal is to teach teens how important it is to help another, and what it means to be responsible and have a positive impact on someone’s life.  The number of volunteers is high, and often hard to control.  Applicants must submit a form and go through training that covers possible lesson content, code of conduct, teaching styles, and the volunteer’s responsibilities.  The library also has the parents of each student to fill out a form, stating that they will committ to the once a week, hour long session.  I found that this was another good  idea because at Landa’s tutoring sessions, we often have students we expect to see, but don’t show up.

It was a joy speaking with Cathy Thomson, and the principal ideas in the Leading to Reading program have given us ideas to improve and expand the tutoring program at Landa Library.

-Maddie, 16, Landa TLLC

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