Retired teacher and Gahanna library volunteer Melvina Bina hopes the time she spends with local children will be the beginning of a lifetime of reading.
After only a year of being out of the classroom as a teacher, she missed her work so much that she decided to volunteer in the Reading Buddies and Homework Help Center at the Gahanna branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
Bina, 68, taught elementary school for 41 years before retiring from the Groveport Madison schools in 2013.
"I really enjoyed working with the kids," she said. "It's a way to give back to the community. I hope kids get a love of reading and become lifelong readers. I think reading is so important and something you can do all through your life."
She started volunteering in the Reading Buddies program in 2014.
"I listen to children read and ask them questions about vocabulary and check their comprehension," she said.
In 2015, Bina said, she added Homework Helper volunteer to her schedule.
"I help them with their homework," she said. "I feel more comfortable working with younger children. They are honest and don't filter things. Sometimes I have repeat kids. The kids show up and they're assigned to us (volunteers)."
She asks about their school day before getting down to business every Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I think I get more out of it than the kids do," Bina said. "It's a wonderful experience. It gives me the opportunity to be with children and work with children. This is a warm and caring library. I like coming here. They make it a good experience."
Youth Services Librarian Amy Hay said Bina is personable.
"She's really good with the kids," she said. "She has a way to listen and help with their reading. She's very patient and takes the time."
Hay said Bina is dedicated to helping children succeed with reading.
Bina said her favorite children's book is "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" by Jon Scieszka.
"It's told from the wolf's point of view," she said. "I think it's important to look at everyone's view. There is more than one viewpoint in the world. Lets look at all sides of the story."
She said she had the chance to meet Scieszka in person.
"He was a second-grade teacher at that time," she said. "I talked to him about his book, and he said he talked to his kids and they made suggestions. He went into education and now is a writer."
Bina said she also enjoys authors James Patterson and John Grisham.
"I like to read different types of books," she said. "There are so many books to choose from."
Bina said she attended a Catholic school as a child in Iowa, and she knew early on that she wanted to become a teacher.
"My first- and second-grade teacher was Sister Martinella," she said. "She was so loving and caring. She was a wonderful person. All the kids felt special because of her."
Bina received a degree in elementary education from Wisconsin's Viterbo College when it was an all-women's institution. It has since become co-ed. She landed her first teaching job where Sister Martinella was working.
"I told her she was the reason I was there," Bina said. "She had the discipline but didn't have to raise her voice. When I went to school, things were much different. You didn't question a teacher."
Bina said she would recommend volunteering at the library to anyone.
"I come early to read before the kids come," she said. "It's a nice place to be and very warm and inviting. It's nice to see the happy kids. It says a lot about a place to see kids with happy faces when they come in. I feel they feel welcomed here and treasured."
Bina said that's a compliment to the library staff.
Ben Zenitsky, library marketing and communications specialist for the Columbus Metropolitan Library, said the Gahanna branch has 18 active Reading Buddies volunteers and 57 active Homework Help Center volunteers.
Anyone interested in volunteering may call the library at 614-645-2275 or visit columbuslibrary.org and click the volunteer link on the home page.