Fluffy Buddies Encourage Reading For Kids

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Lawyer Kenneth Allen presents a plush zebra to Matthias Crots, 7, of Chesterton, who named the toy Zag. AMY LAVALLEY / photo

Brie Hylton had a long list of books she wanted to read to her new stuffed pink pig, a piglet she renamed Oink Oink, after her classmate named her duck Quack Quack.

Brie, 6, a first grader at Yost Elementary School in Porter, recited the book names as nobody’s business: “Pinkalicious,” “Pete the Cat: I love my white shoes” and “A fish. , two fish, one goldfish, blue fish.

For his inaugural reading session with Oink Oink, held on October 27 after local lawyer Kenneth Allen handed over the reading buddies and read “Oh, the places you’ll go! By Dr. Seuss, Brie selected a picture book about Tinkerbell and his friends.

Brie, who lives in Porter, cuddled Oink Oink as she perused the book, initiating a ritual that her teacher, Karen Donley, and United Way of Northwest Indiana officials say will inspire a lifetime of reading.

Allen of the Allen Law Group has donated $ 22,500 to support literacy in the region through the United Way Reading Buddies program, which will provide approximately 4,000 first and second graders with “buddies.” to which children read for at least 15 minutes each day. .

Left: Brie Hylton, 6, of Porter, reads a book about Tinkerbell to Oink Oink, her new reading buddy, as part of a United Way of Northwest Indiana reading program funded by attorney Kenneth Allen.  Center: Karen Donley, a first grade teacher at Yost Elementary School, shows her students how they will put their reading friends away at the end of each school day.  Students take the toys home at the end of the school year.  Right: Zoey Ottomanelli, 6, of Chesterton, has picked a 'Berenstain Bears' book, a fitting choice for her new reading companion, Bear Bear.  AMY LAVALLEY / photos

Left: Brie Hylton, 6, of Porter, reads a book about Tinkerbell to Oink Oink, her new reading buddy, as part of a United Way of Northwest Indiana reading program funded by attorney Kenneth Allen. Center: Karen Donley, a first grade teacher at Yost Elementary School, shows her students how they will put their reading friends away at the end of each school day. Students take the toys home at the end of the school year. Right: Zoey Ottomanelli, 6, of Chesterton, has selected a ‘Berenstain Bears’ book, a fitting choice for her new reading companion, Bear Bear. AMY LAVALLEY / photos

“Reading is such a foundation for success in life and I’m just proud to be a part of it,” Allen said after handing the plush toys to each child in Donley’s class and reading to them. Sarah Arrigo’s first grade class joined in on story time.

Before handing out the toys, Allen explained that the students would not have to feed them.

“All you have to do is read to them every day and they will be happy, healthy and wise,” he said.

For the rest of the school year, Conley told the students, they will read to their pals in class and then place them in their book boxes to stay in school overnight.

“At the end of the school year, you can bring your boyfriend home,” she said, as her students cheered and cheered.

Donley, whose students participate in at least 15 minutes of quiet reading each day, said his class has been participating in Reading Buddies for at least five years now.

“Every year is one of my kids’ favorite things to do,” she said, adding that bringing friends home is exciting for the students at the end of the school year.

The first year is also an exciting time for reading, Donley added, as students show such growth throughout the school year, moving to new levels of reading and celebrating in the classroom.

“Using these reading buddies is such an incentive,” she said.

Matthias Crots, 7, from Chesterton, gladly picked up a plush zebra from Allen, which he named Zag, “basically like a zig zag,” Matthias said. He loves what he reads, he added, and was eager to find Zag “easy books” to read.

Zoey Ottomanelli, meanwhile, has followed the classroom trend and named her new pal Bear Bear. “He’s 1 year old and I’m 6,” Chesterton’s daughter explained.

Zoey is also a fan of the “Pete the Cat” series, as well as “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse”. She selected “The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream” for her first reading session with Bear Bear.

“This is my favorite,” she said, adding that Bear Bear also enjoys doing other things, “like doing exercises to be strong, like push-ups. I know how to do push-ups because I do them. in the gym.


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