Literacy Center gets local kids hooked on reading

Tutors, from left, Susan Hruska, Dana Cappozzella, Mark Knight and Betty McArthur.  Photo by  Pat Hill

Literacy Center gets local kids hooked on reading

24 October, 2018

By PAT HILL [email protected]

There’s nothing like a dog to get kids to enjoy reading — and to be driven to excel. That’s how it is in Woodland Park at the Children’s Literacy Center.

A recent visit to the center, where the satellite location is the Woodland Park library, has kids excited about reading with Brandy, the Golden Retriever therapy dog, as the listener, true or not.

“Dogs are not judgmental,” said Cathy Skiles, Brandy’s owner who is a volunteer tutor with the center. “Kids relax here —at school they get nervous.”

And the rewards are tantalizing. “I want to try and ready a Harry Potter book,” said 8-year-old Bella Brockman, whose tutor is Dana Capozzella. Tutors include Betty McArthur, Skiles, Mark Knight, Susan Hruska and Marla Schilly, who coordinates the program in Woodland Park.

The center, a nonprofit based in Colorado Springs, relies on volunteers to keep the program going. “I was scared at first but kids don’t bite,” Skiles said. Volunteers are asked to tutor one child for two hours a week for 12 weeks.

Training is provided. “Life is about making mistakes and you can learn from them,” Schilly said.

The program is free for participants and is from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. For information, contact [email protected] Schilly and her volunteers host an open house from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at the library.