Penn Serves LA Reads to Kids

By Denise Green Winner, W’83


The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving. Paper planes whizzed across the room, spitballs were stuck to the wall and their good-natured teacher Miss Nelson needed to turn things around. And then entered Miss Viola Swamp. Do you want to read more? 300 inner city kids in the 1st through 5th graders clamored for more.

Penn Serves shared a morning of reading and crafts with Los Angeles Elementary School one Saturday morning in September. We joined forces with other clubs and participants and read, talked, played, inspired, and made crafts with the kids. The kids were curious, engaged and excited for us to read to them. For many of them, English is their second language, and most of their parents did not read English books to them. For these children, Reading to Kids, a monthly service project, provides them with the opportunity to enjoy books and connect with those who love to read.


Each group had six or seven children of the same age and two to three readers. This provided the children with an opportunity to engage with the readers who were prepared with an arsenal of book-related questions. My group had five boys and one girl, all around six years old. One boy had read the book previously, so the challenge was to discourage him from sharing the tale’s twist. Another small boy asked no questions and smiled a lot. To involve him, I asked questions in Spanish and then he happily responded in both English and Spanish. When it was crafts time, the kids were so excited to make puppets which looked like Miss Nelson or the evil teacher Miss Viola Swamp.

For more information about Reading to Kids visit their website.

About Penn Serves LA

We invite the Penn community in Los Angeles (alumni, parents and kids) to join us at a future event, to help spread the word and to help us plan future activities. Join us, meet new Penn people, demonstrate what service means to your kids and friends, help us Quakers make a little bit of difference in our complex city!

Upcoming Penn Serves LA events:

If you have an established nonprofit that you would like us to consider for future events or announcements, please let us know. We are looking for new nonprofits to serve in meaningful ways.

Questions? Reach us at Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

The Penn Serves LA Team

Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16 | Denise Winner, W’83 | Christine Belgrad, W’85, PAR’15 | Leanne Huebner, W’90 | Kiera Reilly, C’93 | Aileen Level, C’99, GED’00 | Irene Park, C’05 | Jeff Weston, C’05

Penn Serves LA has many terrific projects for all ages on the calendar for the coming months.

Read about our previous events:


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Filed under Guest blogger, Penn Serves LA, Volunteering

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