We had the opportunity to speak with Mireille Roudil, volunteer reader for the Lire et Faire Lire association since 2021, and Fabienne Bonnot, coordinator of this same association for many years, after a very active past in the world of volunteer work, particularly in tutoring.
Promoting a taste for reading is one of the projects that the Jacques Martel Foundation has stepped up this year.
In this context, the Foundation recently decided to support the Lire et faire Lire Association, which pursues two objectives:
– An educational objective, relating to the development of reading and language skills,
– An intergenerational social objective, by encouraging exchanges between children and senior citizens.
This meeting was the occasion for anecdotes, smiles, passion, and also questions about the appeal of books and reading… In any case, it was a wonderful moment of exchange that we are delighted to share in the following lines.
Why did you become a volunteer?
Because I’ve been very lucky. I come from a modest but very loving background; I was born into a family in which the values of mutual aid and solidarity were very present.
I’ve received a lot from life, and in retirement, it seemed obvious to me to give a little of my time to those in need.
Why did you choose Lire et Faire Lire?
I asked myself what kind of association I could get involved with.
I had to find something that was close to my heart so that it would last.
Naturally, I thought of reading, because I’ve been an avid reader since childhood.
Giving young children a taste for reading, at a time when screens and video games are flooding the home, may seem utopian, but it’s more necessary than ever.
Reading or listening to a story allows children to concentrate, to create mental images… much more than a parade of images that leaves them passive.
When I moved to Cannes, I discovered a bookshop where I met Alexandre Jardin, invited to present his latest book. After the talk, I had the opportunity to ask him about the association he had set up (editor’s note: Lire et Faire lire). He recommended starting with the very young, so I took the plunge.
After working as a volunteer for several associations, including homework help, I spent 10 years working for the Ligue de l’Enseignement, helping with homework in elementary school.
Mr Lucas, Director of the Ligue de l’Enseignement, then asked me to coordinate Lire et Faire Lire in the south east aera. I knew the association and already had the idea of becoming a reader.
I’ve always taken it to heart that children should have easy access to books, that stories should be read to them from an early age, and that adults should give them time and attention around a book – something that is unfortunately lost in families – and that this should be followed by an exchange.
Today, I’m enormously attached to this work and to the relationships I maintain with readers in the Alpes Maritimes.
And I’d like to share with you some of the motivations our volunteers tell us about:
– To enjoy reading and pass on the passion for reading to the younger generation
– Keeping busy in retirement
– Encouraging children to hold a book in their hands and experience what it can bring them in their lives
– Meet other adults involved in the same activity.
What are your responsibilities at Lire et Faire Lire?
For the past 2 years, I’ve been reading to 2 classes of first graders at a school in Le Cannet. I take the children in groups of 8 for 40 minutes each.
My role is to make the children dream, to get them out of their own story. That’s why I try not to work on the theme studied in class, or on a topical issue. I prefer to give them something else, a little escape.
Sometimes they ask me, “Is it true?” and I answer, “It’s up to you!
It’s a moment outside the classroom; they don’t have to answer right! We want them to be free and imaginative.
I sometimes suggest that they invent the ending, before reading the last page, and that works very well.
Would you recommend such an experience? What is your fondest memory?
I don’t have any fond memories. I’ve just mentioned a few that are very pleasant to recall.
What touches me the most, every week, is the warm welcome I get from all the children, even the unruliest ones, to whom you feel you’ve contributed nothing.
What are Lire et faire Lire’s plans for the Alpes Maritimes?
For the new school year, our main objective is still to recruit readers so that, more and more children can benefit from these moments of reading and sharing.
We want books, whatever they may be, to become a companion of pleasure and culture for them, and for them to approach books and become independent of them. That they enter bookshops and libraries.
Let them realize the benefits of reading for their intellectual development and memory, to enrich their vocabulary, develop their imagination, awaken their curiosity…
We also welcome authors and illustrators to speak to our volunteers, to help them prepare their presentations. We’re also keen to hear from early childhood advisors, so that we can learn more about how to work with toddlers. Demand is growing for this age group.
What do you think about children learning to read?
For me, learning to read is an essential stage in life. At school, it’s the backbone of all learning, so it’s a very important issue.
It’s always worrying to hear that levels are dropping, that children in CM1 have a CE1 reading level. It’s also worrying to see concentration problems multiplying.
We need to offer children as many opportunities as possible to read, especially in a fun way, so that reading is not seen as a constraint, but as a foundation for their success at school and in their careers.
In the school where I work, the groups are very heterogeneous. Some children, barely a quarter of them, are accustomed to evening reading, provided by their parents. But most children have few or no books at home. Screens have invaded everything.
In my opinion, rediscovering books as stories, but also as objects, and exchanging ideas around a book are necessary for the future of the younger generation, and this gives me the energy and motivation to continue.