Reading Buddies Club Adapts to COVID-19

During a year marked by constant uncertainty, Pali’s Reading Buddies find themselves rewriting the book on how to launch a service club. 

Founded more than a year ago by sophomore Madelyn Rahimi, the club had big plans. After participating in a program called “Wise Readers to Leaders,” Rahimi said she wanted to create a spin-off in which high school students would go to local elementary schools to read with children.

However, shortly after organizing partnerships with one school last spring, Rahimi had to scrap plans when schools switched to distance learning. Rahimi said the club is now focusing on staging a fundraiser to help raise money for The Book Truck, a non-profit mobile library that serves children across LA County. 

“It brings reading materials and tutors to kids who are homeless or in the foster system in LA, and we thought it would be really fitting as it’s directly impacting kids,” Rahimi said.

Rahimi said that the club members remain committed to launching the reading program, but says that now is not the right time because of how social distancing protocols are restricting personal interactions between people. “Parents probably don’t want their kids spending even more time on their laptops than they already do,” Rahimi said. 

The group is still trying to make the most of the year and are currently holding bi-monthly Zoom meetings in which they plan for the future and carry out other projects, Rahimi said.  

“This year we’re planning and discussing what [Reading Buddies] will be like in the future so that we’ll know what to expect when we read to the kids in person,” freshmen club member Elsie Ward said. 

In the meantime, Reading Buddies is working on the fundraiser. Club members have been asked to gather five books from their home that they are not using anymore and wrap them in paper so they aren’t recognizable. The students are now in the process of decorating the books and giving them a brief description of their genre and basic information. Then the group will auction off the books on Depop, an online reselling platform, and donate all of the money made to the Book Truck. 

“I can’t take all the credit for the idea,” Rahimi said, jokingly. “I got the inspiration from a Tik Tok.”

“We’re still trying to adapt the club in a way that suits the current environment, but I’m happy that we’re still able to do stuff to help kids get into literature,” sophomore and second year member of Reading Buddies Michaella Matinfar said.

To help raise awareness for the fundraiser and the club as a whole, Rahimi said that they plan on building a social media presence. Reading Buddies currently doesn’t have any social media accounts but it’s planning on incorporating them in the future in order to expand its audience. “I think we’ll use Tik Tok to spread awareness,” Rahimi said. “It’s cool to see how it can be used as a business strategy to help our club.”

Matinfar added, “The fact that [the club] is still able to reach out to the younger demographic and introduce aspects of literature to them in some ways is honestly amazing.”