Pace Reads at the Mt. Pleasant Library

On Sunday, October 16th, a group of Honors College students and Professor Christopher Walther travelled to the Mt. Pleasant Public Library for an afternoon of reading and fall festivities.  “Pace Reads” is an annual event that is a part of the nation wide, Make-A-Difference-Day event.  The popular event allows Honors College students to travel outside the realm of campus and continue to work with  the children of the Pleasantville Cottage School.  This is the second year that I have been able to participate in this event and most of the students in attendance truly appreciate that it is held on a weekend, to accommodate our study and work schedules.  This experience is nothing but rewarding, especially because it combines my love of children and my passion for reading children’s books.  It is a wonderful way to make an academic difference in the lives of Pleasantville community children.  Furthermore, reading books in the cozy children’s nook of the library is a perfect way to spend an autumn afternoon and get underprivileged children excited about reading.

Before the children arrived, Honors College students spent time perusing the children’s section for the perfect books, including everything from seasonal choices and classic children’s titles. Some of us chose childhood favorites such as Madeline; The Bernstein Bears; Goodnight, Moon; and Dr. Seuss.  Others took a different route, choosing books with a Halloween or Fall theme, involving creative children’s costumes and the meaning behind the holiday.  These books were easy to choose from because they were organized at the front of the children’s area.  Later in the event, we invited the children to select their own books and read alongside us.  Allowing them to choose their own books gives them a feeling of empowerment, something that is very influential in the overall childhood experience.

Students also aimed to inspire some festive cheer by asking the Cottage School children about their plans for Halloween costumes, and if they had carved pumpkins or gone apple picking yet.  Many were excited most for a sweet indulgence of Halloween candy and the festivities of the spooky, sweet trick-or-treating process.  Excited students shared their own Halloween experiences and even gave costume suggestions!

What made this event memorable is the amount of nostalgia it elicited.  College students were brought back to tender memories of someone older reading to them.  We were able to witness what we could not see as children: the impact of literature on young minds and the connection it creates between adults and children. Their level of excitement was unparalleled and I could not have been happier to be a part of what made our local Make-A-Difference Day special and successful.