Duke senior Yuyi Li reads Dr. Seuss’s “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!” with Anthony, who is in Kindergarten.
Duke senior Yuyi Li pointed to a pastel yellow page in a book, helping Anthony, a Kindergartner, spell out the word “Mississippi.”
On Thursday evening in a classroom at El Centro Hispano, a Durham nonprofit that provides resources to the Hispanic and Latino community, Li and other tutors sat with about a dozen elementary school students, reading books aloud, working on addition and subtraction problems, or writing letters of the alphabet.
Thursday’s tutoring lessons fell on “Read Across America Day,” a national reading celebration that falls on children’s author Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2. Across the country, schools, libraries and other locations held special reading events. In Durham, young students read Dr. Seuss books such as “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” and “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!” during their El Centro Hispano tutoring lessons.
“This is fun and adds this kind of vitality and excitement to learning and literacy,” Li said about reading Dr. Seuss books with the students. “What we really enjoyed about Dr. Seuss is looking at the pictures in the book and looking at the images, and it triggers more questions. It kind of (spurs) imagination.”
Li was among three Duke students who participated as tutors at El Centro Hispano. They are part of the America Reads/America Counts program, which helps children work on their primary-level reading and math skills. The positions are funded through Federal Work-Study, which provides part-time jobs to undergraduate and graduate students. The America Reads/America Counts program is coordinated through the Duke Community Service Center, which is part of the Duke Office of Durham and Community Affairs.
There are 150 Duke students serving as tutors this semester at local organizations such as El Centro Hispano and at Durham Public Schools locations.
“Participating in ‘National Read Across America Day’ is a way to engage in literacy work in a national context,” said Megan McCurley, program coordinator for America Reads/America Counts at Duke. “These kids are familiar with Dr. Seuss. They gain a level of success with a book that they know, and then you progress on to more challenging exercises.”
Duke freshman Latifa Aboeid has served as a tutor since she was a high school student in Greensboro. Every Thursday, she visits El Centro Hispano and helps the same second-grade student, Christian, with reading and writing. As the weeks have gone by, they have gotten to know each other and swap stories about life and school.
“I had good mentors when I was younger,” Aboeid said about the reason she dedicates her time to tutoring. “They were very inspirational. It’s about me wanting to give back.”
Latifa Aboeid, a Duke freshman, works with second-grade student Christian on math problems. Christian received a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” to take home.
Duke senior Jessica Jara reads a bilingual version of “The Cat in the Hat” with Ramón, who is in Kindergarten. “I want to teach someday, so I thought this was an opportunity to get some practice,” Jara said about tutoring.