The Reading Buddies Program a group of teenagers reading one-on-one with a group of children. They read books together, tell stories, play word games – anything to help the younger children become better readers. This is the story of how ‘Storytime’ put together kids from two different schools on a journey of reading together.
So like all stories I shall start from the beginning, it all started about seven months ago when my friends from Storytime briefed me up about what was then a ?rough sketch?. It was merely an idea, a suggestion that was put forward by a team member and of course, an idea becomes great when it is put into action. So after a few hours, a few brainstorming and definitely after a few hearty meals; the first Reading Buddies Project was developed in Kerala at a food court in a mall.

Elder Reading buddies of rajagiri Christu Jayanthi Public school

Elder Reading buddies of Rajagiri Christu Jayanthi Public School

Like how an old saying goes, ?Things are easier said than done?, this was also a very conceivable idea in the beginning. I had it all planned out in my head, get my team, make a few phone calls to schools, conduct the project and come back to a good night sleep. Little did I know what was waiting my way. It wasn?t exactly a bed of roses, neither was it as easy as how I planned. But thankfully I had an efficient team and honestly I couldn?t have taken a step further if it weren?t for them (Dennis and Adithya, Thanks, boys!). So the three of us, sat down, put our heads together and started from scratch to create a basic structure of our program. But it was held back due to our semester examinations for a few days which then soon grew into a couple of weeks and then into three months. This was not good!

Elder buddy with his younger buddy

Elder buddy with his younger buddy

That?s when I realized time was slipping away and fast, the winter break was coming which meant schools will be out and children will be sleeping on their beds at homes, in other words, Reading Buddies would have to wait till next year. I couldn?t let that happen, firstly because this was a new endeavor and everyone put a lot of effort into its making and secondly, because it was my first ever project.

The younger buddies were bubbling with curiosity throughout the reading session

The younger buddies were bubbling with curiosity throughout the reading session

So I got the ball rolling again, my team and I started making calls. The hardest part was finding the right date, something suitable for not just the two participating schools but also for us; college students. It was all about perfect timing! Not to mention a couple of disappointing calls here and there which really got everyone?s spirits drooping. But the odds were in our favor and so one fine morning we received a message saying that both the schools have finally agreed on a convenient date. Next stop, was meeting our reading buddies.

Kids posing for a picture with Me

Kids posing for a picture with Me

The medium sized auditorium of Christu Jayanthi School was filled with about fifty wide-eyed, smiling, young and full of life middle school children who were gazing at us like we were about to take them to an amusement park, and that made me nervous, for I wasn?t certain how these children would react if we told them that we were about to go to a low-income school to spend the day accompanying children younger than them who are not as blessed as we are.
And I?m pleased to say they were more than thrilled to hear this news and as such within no time we were able to brief to the children how we plan to go forth with our project and how they could support us too.

Volunteers at the event

Volunteers at the event

On the day of the event, everyone was very cooperative, supportive (and all words that end with ?-ive?) and it was glorious to see all those motivated children again. On arriving at the site, the whole program went smoothly with no bumps on the path. And I can gladly say, my first project was a success!

The final Click

The final Click

Gadha Maria is the Team lead of Reading buddies by Storytime. She works from Kochi, and is pursuing her engineering degree in ComputerScience at Rajagiri School of engineering and Technology.