‘The best hour of the week’

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Photo column by Daryn on Bob the volunteer book reader.

‘The best hour of the week’

It’s Tuesday and that means Bob is coming.

For the past three years, Bob Gardner has stopped each Tuesday morning to read books to children at Little Tykes Day Care in Auburn.

“It’s the best hour of the week,” says Gardner, a broadcaster retired from the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

The children watch through the window as Gardner drives up to the house. They greet him at the door.

“Hi, Bob.”

“Hi, Bobby.”

“Hi, Bob the reader.”

“Hi, Bob the Builder.”

Ten books in a BookReach bag will be left behind, but first Gardner will read the choice of each child.

He’s like a grandfather to the children, says Barbara Chamberlain, the day-care provider. She says Gardner not only reads to the children but is known to do sit-ups with them as well.

Gardner, who graduated from Edward Little High School in 1951, found out about Auburn Public Library’s BookReach volunteer reading program at a monthly meeting of former classmates. “I heard someone talk about the program and that lit my fire,” he says.

The stories on this day are about baseball caps, rainbow fish, dragons and full moons. Comments confirming the children’s understanding are “priceless,” says Gardner. “You can see it in their eyes when they connect.”

Hugs fill the final minutes of Gardner’s hour-long visit. “This is really the best,” he says.

“Thank you, Bob.”

“You’re welcome, Caden,” says Gardner as he leaves behind a bag of books to occupy the children until his next visit.

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