Pomona Host Lions, school district help first graders develop love for reading

Pomona Host Lions Club members bring new age-appropriate books to Roosevelt Elementary School students as part of their Roar for Reading program.
Pomona Host Lions Club members bring new age-appropriate books to Roosevelt Elementary School students as part of their Roar for Reading program. COURTESY PHOTO

Pomona Host Lions Club members are committed to service projects in the community, but a special one deals with literacy.

Its Lions Roar for Reading involves first graders at nine Pomona Unified School District schools and promotes the love of reading. Research has shown the earlier youngsters are introduced to books the better. Students are more likely to become fluent readers and successful academically and in life.

“Personally, I believe in this program. I’m a former English teacher and I know there are two key elements for a child to do well — the ability to see what’s going on in the classroom and having access to books,” said Barbara Smith, a retired teacher and chairwoman of the club’s project. “The foundational factors of good sight and a love of reading can be powerful propellants or enhancements for a child so he or she can achieve success in school and in life.”

The service organization has been doing this project for three years. The group has several retired teachers as members and they share Smith’s enthusiasm.

Another aspect, each student involved with Lions Roar for Reading gets to pick his own book and keep it.

“We try to keep 100 or 150 books out on a table. We let the children walk around and look at the books and pick one they want,” she said. “The majority of the children we give the books to have never owned a book of their own. They have books at school, but not at home. There is just something about book ownership that becomes something precious. They will read it over and over again, maybe even to their siblings.”

Denny Mosier is a member of the club’s board of directors. He said not only is it important to introduce children early to books, research also shows that early readers are more likely to attend and graduate college.

The Lions Roar for Reading program began in partnership with Reading Is Fundamental and a Macy’s literacy campaign. Both contributed financially, but last year the partnership ended.

“But we were so convinced of the power of this that we just had to continue,” Smith said.

The club approached the Pomona City Council for help. The council came through with a $400 donation. And the club hosted a fundraiser to add to the amount. “We gave books to 1,000 children last year,” Smith said.

The group wants to continue this campaign. For more information or to donate, send a note to pomonahostlions@gmail.com.

The Pomona Host Lions Club has been active since 1921. The Pomona Host Lions Club is one of the region’s oldest service organizations. The founder of Lions Club International, Melvin Jones, initiated the start. The Lions motto is “We serve,” Mosier said. And serve it does. Its projects include free vision screenings and free recycled eyeglasses; sponsorship of a Braille Institute bus that transports vision-impaired residents to and from classes in Los Angeles; participation and support of PUSD’s science fair and learning expo; and bubble mania at the Pomona Police Department’s annual G.R.E.A.T. Campout.

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Send news of social events with charitable purposes to ssproul@scng.com or on Twitter @SuzanneSproul. Include a contact phone number. Attach high-resolution JPEG photos, and include group name and identification of individuals from left to right.

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