- Associated Press - Saturday, June 28, 2014

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) - For Dorothy Bush Koch, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to reading. Her mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, is an avid reader who has shared her passion with children across the country.

Now Koch is launching her own reading program aimed at pairing teens with elementary school students who need reading help. The program is expected to launch in 20 high schools and elementary schools this fall.

“It was my mother’s passion for reading that helped my brothers and I grow a deep appreciation for learning to read and we want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to read and achieve educational success in their lives,” Koch said. “For 25 years, the Barbara Bush Foundation has led the charge of helping young children strengthen their literacy skills and give them a real chance to succeed. We are closing the gap.”

The former first lady and her daughter were joined by Barbara Bush Foundation President Liz McFadden last week in announcing the launch of Teen Trendsetters, the youth-driven reading mentoring initiative.

The York County Coast Star (http://bit.ly/1jUY5nW ) reported that the program was piloted this past year at Windham High and Windham Primary School, where 40 students worked together on reading skills during weekly mentoring sessions.

“It’s clear from the results we get back that all parties involved benefit from this program,” librarian Amy Denecker said. “Mentors are proud of the work they do and feel more connected to their community. Mentees said they feel more important and like reading. Parents are reading to their children more.”

Schools can apply to participate through July 7.

Abbi Libby, a 10th grade Teen Trendsetter at Windham, gave the program an endorsement.

She said she and first-grader Gemma Evans developed a bond over reading that they didn’t want to end. “She wanted to try to continue the program the next year because she learned to love reading,” she said.

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