SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A Syracuse City Schools reading program is making a return after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Book Buddies not only aims at developing students’ love for reading but it’s also intended to improve their skills.

David Ringwood is a longtime educator who recently retired. Volunteering for Book Buddies gives him the perfect opportunity to continue making a difference in young students’ lives.

“It’s rewarding and I just hope it’s as rewarding for my book buddies. When your eyes meet and that smile comes across their face, there’s nothing better than that.”


During lunchtime, Syracuse City School students are able to work one-on-one with the same volunteer every week. The program is focused on ensuring that all students’ reading abilities are at grade level by third grade.

Nancy Kern Eaton, president of the United Way of Central New York, was a Book Buddy herself.

“You see the same children each week so it’s really nice because you get to know them. You celebrate their progress. You get to know what their interests are. What makes them laugh, so we are thrilled to offer this opportunity.”


After a pandemic pause, Book Buddies is making a strong comeback, expanding to three city schools: Syracuse Dual Language Academy (where the program started), Roberts Elementary and Bellevue Elementary school.

“Given the constraints of a school day, a chance for a teacher to work one on one with a student, that doesn’t always happen,” Ringwood explained. “So, if you have an additional resource in the building like a Book Buddy, that’s going to benefit. It’s going to be a benefit for the students.”

The program is looking for about 80 more volunteers this year. It’s one hour of your time each week.

If you’re interested in signing up, click here.

United Way of Central New York and M&T Bank are this year’s sponsors.