Leading the Readers
by Donna Childs
To say high school sophomore Nasra Ali participates in the Follow the Reader program at Gregory Heights Library is a significant understatement. Nasra was introduced to Follow the Reader by a friend and she quickly became not just a participant, but an enthusiastic leader and advocate. She distributes flyers, recruits and tutors budding readers, and recommends ways to expand and improve the program, like including foreign language reading.
Follow the Reader matches younger readers in grades K-5 with older students who have been trained to help with reading. Tutors generally meet one-on-one with three children each Saturday for a half hour each, between 4:00 and 5:30. Invested in her young readers, Nasra takes pains to encourage them, choosing books based on their interests, and missing them when they move on. When asked what she likes most, she promptly replied, “watching a child improve and become excited by reading!”
Nasra is an impressive student herself. A sophomore at Franklin High School, she earns As in Advanced Placement classes, which entails college-level work that is usually reserved for juniors and seniors. “No Bs for me; to me, Bs are like Fs,” she insisted. Not surprisingly, she has been accepted into a summer program at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., which will allow her to live on campus and take more college-level courses. Meanwhile, she participates in a college preparatory program for high school students in Portland on Saturdays. Afterward, she volunteers with her readers at the library. This year, Nasra’s science fair project won first place, not only for Franklin but also for all Portland Public School students. She moves on to the state competition later this month.
“Nasra brings heart and enthusiasm” to Follow the Reader, according to the librarian who oversees the program. Describing herself as “a middle child between two older brothers and two younger brothers” (though happily there is now a baby sister as well), Nasra credits her love of reading to seeking a quiet escape. While she might treasure the occasional sojourn into the world of a good book, escape is not the word many who know her would associate with the energetic and involved Nasra Ali.
A few facts about Nasra
Home library: Gregory Heights and Hollywood
Currently reading: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.
Book that made you laugh or cry: The Night She Disappeared by April Henry.
E-reader or paper? Paper; it’s just more traditional