Volunteer reading program off and running

‘Brr’ a smash success.


Staff writer

Reading is fun. And that’s exactly what kindergarten students in the Bremerton School District are beginning to realize.

A nine-week volunteer reading program called “Brr”, designed to make reading an enjoyable experience for kindergarten students, recently completed its second week in BSD elementary schools.

And the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Kitsap Lake Elementary School principal Lyle Burbidge. “The kids now look forward to it every week.”

Every Thursday, 24 volunteers from the Bremerton community come to 24 different kindergarten classrooms for one hour to read to the students. In small groups, the students go from reader to reader throughout the hour-long activity and listen to stories.

“They have been like clockwork,” Burbidge said of the volunteers. “They do such a fantastic job reading to the kids.”

“Brr” was organized by Bremerton Rotary Club members Shawna Bliss and Marilee Hansen, who worked with the Bremerton School Foundation, Bremerton Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and Olympic College to fund the event. All four groups contributed an equal amount to buy the 1,500 books needed to make the program possible.

When the program ends, every child who participated will receive a book with the “Brr” mission — “Because every child should read or be read to every day” — printed on its inside cover.

Bliss, who also is one of the 24 volunteer readers, hopes kids will hold onto their books and remember that reading is important.

“The response has been very positive,” she said. “The kids love it, the teachers love it, and all the volunteers are having a great time.”

“Brr” is scheduled to run for seven more weeks as more excitement builds between the students and volunteers.

“It’s accomplishing exactly what we’re trying to do: Get kids hooked on reading,” Burbidge said.