Mitzvot from the heart: Ethan Benoist

Ethan Benoist, Congregation Temple Israel

Ethan Benoist knows that books, and being read to, are not a given in every home. One of his favorite activities is relaxing with a good book, and he wanted to share his love of reading with other young children. 

Son of Amy and Patrick Benoist of Town and Country, Ethan, a student at Parkway Central Middle School, chose to volunteer with Ready Readers.

Ready Readers is a St. Louis-based nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring preschool-age children from low-income communities to love books and to have the literacy skills necessary to become readers when they enter kindergarten.

Because Ready Readers requires volunteers under the age of 16 to be accompanied by an adult, Ethan brought his nanawith him. For six months, they read to kids, ages 3 to 5, at a north St. Louis County Head Start. 

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Ethan brought about five books from home every week and went to the library to find others. His favorites were “Good Night Moon,” “Skippy John Jones” and “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.”

 Amy Benoist said, “Finding really simple books that promoted conversations and dialogue to get the kids thinking and processing what the story was saying was the hardest part.” 

Ethan said the children were “super funny and cute” and eager to listen to him. Ethan connected really well with the  kids, most likely because he’s so fun-loving, silly and laid back. One of the little boys really touched Ethan’s heart because he didn’t naturally know how to hold the book and turn the pages from left to right. 

“An added bonus was sharing this awesome experience with my nana,” Ethan said. “I was proud of being a part of Ready Readers. Even though the kids thanked me every week, I thought I was the lucky one.”