“Literacy experiences are a gateway to open doors,” said Alix Peck-Martinez, a former educator and administrator, and current Read United Reading Buddy.
A student’s reading level by the completion of third grade is a known predictor of academic performance and whether they will graduate on time. At United Way, we focus on increasing the number of diverse reading programs for children that provide individualized learning, engaging topics and continuous monitoring to guide these young students to reading success.
In November 2021, we launched Read United and asked volunteers to be “Reading Buddies” to provide virtual storytelling to students at Passmore and Cable (NISD) Elementary schools. The schools were selected through our Impact Partner Family Service Association.
Since then, many volunteers have stepped up to provide a fun literacy experience to students.
“Reading a book for 10-15 minutes is such a small thing. Except for when it isn’t… There are certain experiences, books, conversations, and opportunities that shape the future of our lives and often, they stem from the simple, little moments. My perspective is that if I can engage just one child and encourage a desire to learn, question or be curious, then it’s far more than worth the 10-15 minutes out of my day,” Alix said.
Virtual storytelling has also helped some students stay engaged with teachers and students.
“Each time I have read, I am left with a full heart, but a particular experience made my heart smile beyond compare.
“[One time], I saw a third window pop up with a little boy and his mom. I assume that he was at home recovering from COVID, but he appeared to be on the “the up and up.” He had the opportunity to say hello to his classmates, hear words of compassion from his teacher, listen and read along with me. It may not seem like a lot, but his smile spoke more than words could ever express, as did the enthusiasm from his classmate,” said Alix.
Read United still needs volunteers through the remainder of the 2021-22 school year. Volunteers can read to pre-K through third-grade students. Bilingual readers are needed for each grade level.
- First and third-grade bilingual readers are needed the 3rd week of the month.
- Second grade has its own registration shift for bilingual readers.
- Following the book, volunteers will ask the students questions to monitor their reading comprehension.
- All volunteers will need to have computer access to Zoom to participate in the program.