Mandan teacher starts 'Project Armchair' to help kids escape reality with books

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Mandan, N.D. Reading is one of the most important skills a child can learn. For kids in crisis, however, it can mean even more.

Mandan teacher Vonda Dahl named Project Armchair after the thought of a child in a big chair, in a quiet room getting lost in a book.

Now, she's making that vision a reality.

Desirea Shelton loves it when Mrs. Dahl comes in to sit down and read.

"She always brings the funnest stories to do and she makes really funny voices for the animals," says Shelton.

Desirea is in the hospital dealing with Job Syndrome, a rare lung disease.

"When I or my volunteers are reading to them, they forget for a moment that they're in a hospital or in a homeless shelter and the pain and the fear and the uncertainty is just forgotten," says Dahl.

Dahl started off by herself, but in less than a year, almost 20 teachers joined the project.

"It's priceless. I mean, when they connect with a book and they just forget everything that's going on, it's incredible. It makes everything worth it," says Miranda Christen, volunteer.

"You find that time and that coziness sitting with them and you just get lost, lost in reading," says Amy Kvine, volunteer.

Teens who are a little too old to be read to or to read pictures books can head to the teen lounge, where Project Armchair has set up a library. They can come down and pick up books, like the 'City of Ember'.

The group has already given out more than 100 books.

"There's a lot of great books," says Desirea.

And a lot of great kids, like Desirea, who could use them.

If you'd like to donate a book, you can drop it off at Sanford's volunteer office or front desk. You can also follow Project Armchair on Facebook, or projectarmchair.blogspot.com