Once upon a time, they were young children who loved books and stories. The years passed by, and now they are sharing that love of reading and setting the example for younger students.
On Monday, December 19, seven Byram Hills High School students who belong to the Reading in Between the Lines book club treated students at Coman Hill Elementary School to an afternoon storytime.
The high school guest readers chose two holiday books and each visited a different classroom. The elementary school students, comfortable in PJs on pajama day, sat attentively as the girls read the wintertime stories aloud.
Gwyn Brown, a Byram Hill senior and co-founder of the book club, said she wanted to share stories with Coman Hill students to encourage reading.
“When I was younger I always looked up to older kids and I always loved reading too, so I feel like it’s important to incentivize them to read,” said Gwyn, who visited a kindergarten class. “Reading was such an important thing to me growing up. I hope that this will get them excited about the holidays and get them excited about books and stories and reading.”
Sophomore Chloe Kohl, the other club co-founder, enjoyed reading to first graders.
“It was a really meaningful experience,” she said. “I love working with younger students. It was really nice to share my love of reading with them and encourage them to start reading books for fun because I first started to really love books at their age.”
Zoe Harris, another tenth grader, read to second graders in Jennifer Rowell’s class.
“I wanted to do this because I loved my time here at Coman Hill and I remember that some high schoolers came in to read to me and I always found it so much fun and exciting and so I wanted to share that joy with the younger kids,” Zoe said. “It was so exciting. The kids all really enjoyed it and I had so much fun doing it.”
Ms. Rowell, who was Zoe’s teacher at Coman Hill, said her former student was “poised and charming.”
“The children waited until after she read to raise their hands and share connections, questions, and comments,” Ms. Rowell said. “Zoe listened and answered each one of them thoughtfully with patience and humor. Zoe's visit was a great experience.”
Sophomore Inaara Lalani said the second grade students she read to were very engaged.
“It was really nice to see how much they loved listening to others read,” she said. “They were very interactive with me, so it was really fun.”
Years after they were elementary school students reading picture books, the high schoolers have become great role models.
“It was inspiring and it was instilling a love of reading among young students,” said Letty Nardone, the Byram Hills librarian and adviser to the book club. “The younger kids look up to the older kids, and everyone had fun. Reading should always be fun.”