Promoting Child Literacy: Speaks With the Carleton Caldecott Club

By Megan Driscoll

katie storey and allie sterling What is your class year and major at Carleton?

Katie Storey: I am a mathematics major in the class of 2012.

Allie Sterling: I am a Cinema and Media Studies major in the class of 2011. What does the Carleton Caldecott Club entail, and what are your roles?

KS: The Carleton Caldecott Club is a weekly reading program for children at the Northfield Library on Saturday mornings. We read a specific Caldecott book each week and then do an activity related to the book.

As program director, I come up with activities to do with the kids and organize a group of Carleton student volunteers. I usually attend each week, along with two or so other volunteers.

AS: As a student coordinator in the ACT Center, I oversee a number of youth-related programs, including the Carleton Caldecott Club. I am basically a resource for Katie to use when she wants help with ideas about programming or advertising, and we work together to do any problem solving that's necessary. How has the experience been so far? What have you liked about it, what's surprised you and what are your hopes for the rest of the program?

KS: The experience has been great so far! I love interacting with kids from the community. In the past, we were known as Library Story Hour, and we read a variety of books and did some arts and crafts throughout the hour. Now I'm really excited for the Caldecott theme, and I think it will give the program more organization and structure. We have already had more children attending each week, and they have had a lot of fun with the stories and art projects!

AS: So far, we've gotten a lot of buzz about the Carleton Caldecott Club, which has been both a helpful boost for attendance as well as a good challenge to design programming that will be both engaging and fun for the kids and families involved. I hope that as the program grows, we can develop a consistent group of kids who are excited about reading and interacting with college-age role models. What drew you to this program? Do you have any particular interest in child literacy?

KS: I have always loved working with kids. I knew it would be tough to go for ten weeks each term at college without interacting with children, so I was immediately drawn to this program when I saw it at our school activities fair freshman year. I have also always been an avid reader, so I think it's really important to get kids interested in books and reading at a young age.

AS: I have always enjoyed working with youth, and I am a strong believer in promoting childhood literacy. My sister, who just received her master's in Library and Information Science and wants to be a children's librarian, has convinced me that childhood literacy is one of the most important ways that we can effect positive change among our nation's youth. Did you have any experience volunteering before coming to Carleton, and if so, what work did you perform?

KS: I volunteered at our local library, so I had the chance to work with kids in some of the book clubs. I also volunteered in the summer as a camp counselor at ESF Dream Camp, which is a privately funded day camp for inner-city kids from Philadelphia.

AS: During high school, I volunteered substantially with my church, which included teaching Sunday school, helping with an afterschool program and co-directing a preschool aged choir. I also volunteered as a tutor for a third-grader from a more disadvantaged area of New Jersey, my home state. How long have you been volunteering for the ACT Center? Have you worked on any previous projects?

KS: I have been volunteering for the ACT Center since my freshman year at Carleton. I volunteered with Library Story Hour (which is now Carleton Caldecott Club), and last year I became program director. I have also been tutoring through the ACT Center since freshman year, and I tutor a Northfield High student in math. In addition I am co-program director for another ACT organization, called Kids for Conservation. In this program, we write lessons about the environment and conservation and teach them weekly at Sibley Elementary School.

AS: I began volunteering with the ACT Center my freshman year, and have continued ever since. My biggest commitment has been to the Middle School Youth Center, an afterschool program at the local middle school that offers a safe space for students to work on homework and interact with college students. I've also volunteered at the local food shelf, and I continue to volunteer at the Clothes Closet, a resale shop in town that caters to the underserved Latino population in Northfield. Do you have any future plans to continue with service-oriented work?

KS: I definitely plan to continue with service-oriented work, but I am not sure exactly what I want to do. I am sure I will continue working with children, and I would love to volunteer in schools in order to help tutor students who are struggling.

AS: I am planning on applying to AmeriCorps positions after graduation, and I am interested in maintaining a lifelong engagement with community, no matter what career path I end up following. What are your career goals? If you could have any job, what would it be?

KS: I don't have well-defined career goals at the moment. I plan to go to graduate school in mathematics. Then I may want to become a math professor or work with statistics related to education.

AS: At the moment, I am still figuring out my plans for after graduation, but I have considered a number of different career options, including education, social work and speech therapy. I am also considering a career in the nonprofit world, where I'd like to work with youth in some capacity. Finally, I'd like to give you the opportunity to share anything you'd like about your work with the Carleton ACT Center and your experience in the Carleton Caldecott Club.

KS: I have had an awesome experience working with the ACT Center throughout my years at Carleton. It has provided a great way to interact with the Northfield community, expanding my school experience to more than just the Carleton campus. I hope that the Northfield community has also benefited as much from our interaction and service through the ACT Center!

AS: The ACT Center has provided valuable opportunities for me to engage with the Northfield community, and expand my experience beyond the 'bubble' of Carleton. Through the opportunity to work in the ACT Center as a student coordinator, I have gained valuable leadership skills, and I have learned to become more conscientious about my own efforts for social justice.

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