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January 18, 2011 > Bookleggers share joy of reading

Bookleggers share joy of reading

By Alissa Gwynn
Photos By courtesy of Gail Orwig

Whether traveling through the Sahara, solving a mystery, or exploring outer space, Bookleggers know that reading fuels imaginations. As volunteers through the Alameda County Library, Bookleggers visit classrooms in the Fremont Unified School District and spread the joy of reading to children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Bookleggers must attend eight weeks of training at the Fremont Main Library, where they are taught storytelling and booktalking skills. After the training period, volunteers are ready to visit classrooms as guest speakers and introduce books from a list created by the Booklegger Steering Committee. Books, which vary according to grade level, are not award-winners (which are already well-publicized), popular series, or classics. Instead, they are enjoyable, exciting, and age-appropriate selections for students to read for fun in their free time. Booklegger books are checked out from the library three times more than other books, a testament to the program's success.

"The reason Booklegger came about 26 years ago was that library staff felt they could never visit all of the K-8 classes in the School District. So why not train community volunteers in the art of spreading the joy of reading in the schools?" says Gail Orwig, Booklegger Director. Currently, there are approximately 30 Bookleggers who visit eight to nine schools each semester.

Bookleggers choose their grade level preference and create a program for students. Typically, they choose five to six books to introduce and read aloud to younger students, while older students may be given book talks for up to 15 titles. Bookleggers introduce stories and plotlines, piquing students' curiosity so that they have to read the books to find out the ending.

There are no prerequisites to becoming a Booklegger; volunteers simply must have a love for reading and attend the eight-week training session held twice a year. An orientation meeting for prospective volunteers will be held on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 from 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. at the Fremont Main Library, 2400 Stevenson Blvd., in Fremont, in Conference Room A.

Orientation will provide information about the Booklegger program, a demonstration of Booklegging, and an overview of the time commitment that Booklegging entails. For more information, call the Children's Desk at the Fremont Main Library, (510) 745-1421, and ask for Gail or Karen.

Booklegger orientation meeting
Tuesday, January 25
2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Fremont Main Library - Conference A
2400 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont
(510) 745-1421

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