As Grandma Adele Druck sang “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” on Saturday at the , a boy popped up, holding a pig made out of felt and placed it on the blue storyboard.
He came back to his seat with a grin that was wide enough to show that one of his front teeth was missing.
Druck, who worked in the insurance industry for 30 years before retiring, is part of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Grandparents and Books (GAB) program that started two decades ago. Its main goal is to impart a love for reading.
Alex Partida, a 7-year-old second-grader at Tarzana Elementary School, is a regular to the Grandparent and Books program.
“I get books here and read them at my house, and when I’m finished I return them back and get new books,” Alex said.
Druck started to volunteer about eight years ago, because she was always interested in reading. She told Patch most of her patrons are first- and second-graders; sometimes, when they are older, they come back to say hello, she said.
“They are like alumni,” said Druck, an Encino resident. “It’s very rewarding. Kids call you 'Grandma' and you get to see them learning to read, enjoying reading. It’s something that will last with them for their lives.”
Druck uses library books, but supplements those with books she brings from home. At holiday times, she likes to use her own books.
The library offers a short training program that teaches volunteers how to read to children. All volunteers must pass security and background checks and get fingerprinted. They must be 21 years or older and able to commit two or more hours a week for a six-month period. Volunteers receive training in techniques to make reading come alive, and bilingual readers are welcome.
There are at least five "grandmas" who read to youthful patrons at the Encino-Tarzana branch. Tarzana resident Geri Novak has been volunteering for 15 years and it’s the children that keep her coming back, she said.
“It’s fun reading to them, getting their reactions,” Novak said. “Sometimes they read to me. They are proud of themselves and love being praised.”
Novak recently saw a set of twin girls she knew from the past who are now teens at the library.
“It's nice to see them all grown up and using the library,” Novak said. “The fact they still use the library shows their love of books.”
Encino-Tarzana Library, 18231 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana; 818-343-1983. For the GAB program, call 213-228-7487, or click here for more information.