Some young readers are getting an extra helping hand through the Reading Pals program with the Red Deer Public Library.

Kids in grades two to four who struggle with reading and writing are referred to the program at the Dawe branch through their schools. They are matched with a volunteer tutor and spend one-on-one time reading, writing and playing games.

“It really builds that sense of competency and ability so that they can go forward and as they're learning, with their whole support network, their school system, their parents, their families, their teachers to read. In the end they're going ‘yeah I can do this,’” said Library Assistant Anna Morgan-Wold.

The program runs for six weeks in the summer and helps around 90 kids. Reading Pals is also offered during the school year at the end of October and early in the New Year.

“We always have people clamoring to get back and have more,” said Morgan-Wold.

For 10-year-old Kensli Pike, her favourite part of the program is her reading pal Leah Peters.

“She’s nice and she’s fun,” said Pike.

And her favourite book is about hockey.

“Because everyone in my family plays hockey and it had really good details,” she said.

This is Peters’ second year with the program.

“I just made really good connections with the students and it was just a great way to feel like I'm making a difference,” she said.

In the end, the children in the program leave with more than just knowing how to read.

“It is promoting a good experience for learning how to read and write and it helps because it gives you better steps in the future for education,” said Peters.

“It can open up new worlds of information about the things that they're passionate about, the things that they want to be able to do,” said Morgan-Wold.

And the volunteers end up leaving with just as much.

“They keep coming back because I think they get back more from the experience. The children bring this transparency, this vulnerability, this happiness and it's just so satisfying to have that positive influence in the life of a child,” said Morgan-Wold.

She adds that they are always looking for more volunteers to be reading pals and if anyone is interested to contact the library.