Children with smiles on their faces and books in their hands lined the hallways and filled the waiting rooms on April 9 at Children’s Hospital Central California’s quarterly Literacy Fair.
Walgreens employees and Children’s volunteers read to the patients, enthusiastically pointing out pictures of animals, colors and shapes. They also handed out bookmarks and stickers. Some children even read to George, the Hospital mascot.
“It’s fun watching the little kids pick out books,” said Walgreens employee Canary Tran. She said she decided to participate because she enjoys children and saw this as a great opportunity to give back to the community.
Each child chose a book to take home. The literacy fair encourages parents and their children to read together in order to strengthen their reading, comprehension and speech skills.
Shar Ahrendes, a Hospital volunteer for the past nine years, also read to children passing through the hallways. “I love working with kids. Besides being fun, it’s so great to see their faces when they get a book ─ it makes all the difference,” she said.
Sisters Hannah and Emily Jobinger were excited to see George as they read their books in the orthopaedic surgery waiting room. They even stopped to take a photo with him.
Hannah, 8, chose to read a “Star Wars” book. “I like the action in it,” she said, adding Luke Skywalker is her favorite character. Emily, 5, chose to read “Where is Elmo?” with her father.
Children’s Hospital promotes and encourages children in Central California to become lifelong readers through its Literacy Program. In addition to the literacy fairs, doctors and medical staff talk to families about the importance of reading and give books to patients during their appointments. The Hospital also participates in national literacy efforts like Read Across America, Read for the Record and Teen Read Week.
Children’s Literacy Program is funded through local and federal grants, including those from Reach Out and Read, Reading Is Fundamental, Bank of America, Target, and The Bertha and John Garabedian Charitable Foundation.