It was a typical law school classroom, long desks, stadium style seating, a whiteboard and a podium in the front, but this was far from a typical class. In fact, it was not a class at all. It was Books and Buddies, a program at the University of Miami School of Law that pairs law school students with a fifth or sixth grader. All semester long, pairs of future lawyers and elementary students exchanged letters and created a story together and today the pen pals would finally meet.
Lucky for me one of the law students couldn’t make it to meet her pen pal and I got to fill in. David, my pen pal for the day, was shy at first but as we got to know each other he told me a little about his dreams. I learned that he would like to visit NYC, that he dreams of traveling to Colorado because he has never seen snow and that he hangs out with his cousins.
Over pizza and cookies David read aloud the story that he and his pen pal had written together. While I was impressed to hear metaphors in the text I was more impressed with the fluidity with which he spoke and the pride he took in carrying on the suspense of the tale. Clearly Books and Buddies was achieving their goal of fostering reading and writing skills in Miami public school children.
When it was time for the kids to leave David thanked me for filling in and told me how much fun he had. I encouraged him to keep reading and to come visit me in NYC!
I have two reasons for sharing this experience with you. To congratulate the Books and Buddies program for fostering reading and to encourage all of you to get involved. Volunteering is a gift to yourself.
Okay, I’m done preaching, I promise.