If you can read this, you are probably not among the 32 million adult Americans who can’t. Adults who read at less than an eighth grade level, have difficulty understanding essential information to function successfully in society. Low reading skills result in lower incomes, lower quality jobs, and low self esteem. But literacy is a journey that starts when adults are young. If children fall behind in elementary school, they never catch up.
Leslie Williams volunteers with first graders as part of the Read2Succeed Program in Orlando, Florida. The program is sponsored by the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools. Volunteers work to improve reading comprehension by building vocabulary.
Leslie introduces three new vocabulary words to her first grader each week. She reads a picture book aloud and her student follows along and highlights the words in the text. Together they craft a sentence using one of the new words. Then the child illustrates the word in his journal. At the end of the session, the picture book goes home with the student. This process is repeated for twenty-four weeks. By the end of the school year the first grader receives a total of thirteen picture books.
“I believe Read2Succeed is a huge benefit. The program gives them one on one attention, and they feel special. This is my fourth year as a volunteer and I love working with the kids.” Leslie commented.
A retired teacher who comes from a family of teachers, Leslie has fond childhood memories about reading. “My siblings and I always got a book from Santa every Christmas. My mom read books to us every night before bed. Charlotte’s Web was her favorite book and became one of ours as well.” Today, Leslie considers herself a reading advocate. She belongs to a book club and reads at least one book a week.
I asked Leslie if she felt if ebooks would make printed books obsolete someday. “Gosh, I hope not,” she responded. “Nothing can replace the look and feel of a new book.”
Leslie agrees the internet and social media have shortened our attention spans for reading. “My daughter teaches first grade and complains that it’s hard for books to compete with video games. However, when she reads aloud to her class the children are engaged because she includes sound effects.”
May is “National Get Caught Reading” month. Many classrooms display posters of celebrities reading a book to encourage students to read for pleasure. This post acknowledges all those who make a contribution to further the goal of literacy. I am thankful for teachers who impacted my life and the many volunteers who work with children.
People Who Can Read, Should
Take time this month to enjoy a good book. Reading is a great way to unplug and relax. Leave a comment and share some of your favorite books.