Reading is essential to success in our society. According to a research team for the federal America Reads Challenge program, if children do not read at grade level by 3rd grade, they are likely to continue to fall behind.
Further research also stated that functional illiteracy is a multi-generational problem. If parents do not read, their children are likely to struggle, and then dismiss reading from their lives. Unless intervention programs are put into place, this problem will increase and we will be facing a new generation of functionally illiterate adults.
The program was developed several years ago after the agency recognized a growing need for children to have ongoing, positive literacy-related experiences to help ensure academic success, based on scientific research:
The program is structured to deliver reading to children in school: both in public schools and in preschool programs. The reading takes place in a circle reading time using a dialogic reading method to engage children in the story. Participatory book discussion follows.
We recruit and train volunteers for program delivery–we can grow the program at little cost.
Books read to the children in the classes are donated monthly to the classroom following the reading and the book discussions to help teachers build a classroom library. The program also collects books and conducts book giveaways periodically throughout the year.
Book Buddies is geared for children in 2nd and 3rd grade, although if teachers request a Book Buddy for a first grade student, we will accommodate that request if we can.
Third Grade is a crucial year: it is the year when children should be transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. This is reading with comprehension. Many third graders are struggling to make this transition; some have learning disabilities, which are complicated and require special interventions.
However, others are struggling because they did not get the foundation at home – they were not read to regularly, they do not see their parents read for enjoyment or even for purpose, and they did not play games that are essential for developing reading skills. They start school with a language and vocabulary deficit that cannot be easily ameliorated within the confines of the classroom.
A retired teacher said: “If I only could have had some extra one-to-one time with so many of my students—just to sit out in the hallway and let them practice reading from the text book out loud, I know they would have learned to read with confidence.”
The core mission of Literacy Connections has been, and will remain, to help adults learn to read, write (and when needed to learn to speak) English so that they can reach their potential. But when adults to come to us to learn to read, they have been living lives of poverty and despair. They are dependent on their communities. It is a not a life anyone would choose; to live in a literate society, that values and rewards education, without this basic skill. We want children to become literate adults.
BOOK BUDDIES are volunteers who give one hour a week (defined as “One lunch hour a week”) to go to a nearby school to read with children that teachers have identified as reading below grade level.
BOOK BUDDIES volunteers are: parents, senior volunteers, working volunteers. Recruitment takes place at: work sites, senior programs, PTA’s, etc. The program follows the protocol of the individual schools for vetting volunteers, and for where volunteers will read with their students. (Locations are always IN the school, but can be: in cafeteria, library, hallway, special room, etc.)
ORIENTATIONS/TRAININGS TAKE PLACE FOR VOLUNTEERS IN BOTH PROGRAMS