With stunning mountain views and plenty of space, the top-floor meeting room of the new Missoula Public Library is an ideal location for the Soft Landing Missoula Summer Reading Club’s weekly reunion.
On Thursday, a group of 16 refugee children took turns reading the pages of “Hoot” by Carl Hiaasen.
Standing in front of the room, AmeriCorps instructor Natalia Boise paused to review words the children did not recognize, such as “circle” and “fight.”
When she asked how many children wanted to continue reading after an hour, a dozen hands were raised directly into the air.
Many children speak Swahili as their mother tongue and others speak Arabic, but their English is improving dramatically week to week, Boise said.
Soft Landing Missoula is a non-profit organization created to help refugee families who have been resettled here by the International Rescue Committee.
The book club is in its second year and was created as a way to engage refugee youth not only to reduce ‘learning losses’ over the summer, but also to continue to create social experiences. , according to executive director Mary Poole. Children build friendships, confidence and the English skills they need to be successful during the school year.
“Coherent experiences like the book club, where children not only hone their reading skills, but also have the time and space to be kids having fun together, go a long way in building self-confidence for success. when they walk through the classroom doors in the fall, ”said Poole.