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January 17, 2013

Martin’s Reading Rainbow program still going strong after 14 years

Mary Martin Elementary’s long-standing Reading Rainbow program is just as strong today as it was 14 years ago when it first began.

Reading Rainbow is a story hour for children ages 3 and 4 years old and occurs on select Fridays (about eight annually) throughout the school year. The mission of the program is to build a positive school relationship with these children by providing learning experience with staff members and older students. Today, the Reading Rainbow program is administered by Jody Denkhaus and Debbie Mendrop.

“Kids spend time reading books, participating in crafts and activities, and visiting the computer lab,” Denkhaus said. “Each child is assigned a ‘Big Buddy,’ their own specially-trained sixth grader who assists them during their time together.”

Denkhaus also said the program was designed to foster a love for books, beginning basic computer skills, and helping the children become familiar and comfortable at school.

Other important goals of the program include sharing the literacy experience, communicating with and relating to older students, and practicing early computer skills.

Each time the kids meet, a different theme is introduced. Today’s theme was snow, and Mendrop made a special “snow formula” and allowed each child to hold it.

Also, Mendrop read “The Mitten,” by Jan Brett, to the children, and the sixth graders also played various roles as animals.

The next Reading Rainbow experience is scheduled for Feb. 1. For additional information, contact Denkhaus at

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