Groveport elementary school students are exploring the power of reading each week at the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Southeast Branch.

Every Wednesday, children in kindergarten through third grade have an opportunity to attend Reading Buddies Power Hour from 5 to 6 p.m. at the branch, 3980 S. Hamilton Road.

The free program, which started in September, is an extension of the Reading Buddies program that has been a regular addition to the Monday and Tuesday schedules at the library for many years.

That program partners a student with a volunteer reading buddy to develop reading skills. The Power Hour is more of a group setting that allows children to listen to an audio tape and follow along in their book or take turns reading the book.

"Then we talk about the book and the context to work on those comprehension skills," Youth Services manager Mary Ann Crago said.

She said after the book is discussed, the students play a fun game -- maybe Bingo with a literacy component to it, such as identifying sight words or vocabulary-building words.

Many of the children who participate in Reading Buddies also take part in the Power Hour, Crago said.

"I think a lot of what we do is working to improve reading skills," she said. "I think we are also building connections with those students and parents in the way that they realize the library is a fun place and a place that they trust -- a place where they can learn and continue to come back.

She said as many as 26 students have attended the Power Hour, but typically, the program attracts about 15 students each week.

Books have included "Frog and Toad," the "Junie B. Jones" series and selections from Dr. Seuss. Selections vary from chapter books to a collection of volumes that focus independent reading skills.

Crago said teachers and parents have been very receptive to the program.

Last week, Jeanette Bramer took her 6-year old son, Owen, to Power Hour.

Bramer said the library staff was very good at including each child in the activities and making them feel comfortable in the reading environment.

"It was a nice combination of having reading exercises and having a nice fun game at the end," Bramer said.

As a result, she and Owen plan to attend other Power Hour sessions.

Crago said children do not have to be signed up ahead of time to participate in the program and older siblings have attended with their brothers or sisters.