Read Aloud West Virginia is a literacy nonprofit, but if you condense our mission into a single word, “connection” might be the one to use. We often say habits are caught rather than taught. Children catch the reading habit through connections made possible by volunteers, teachers, families and the community at large. This newsletter offers ample evidence of the connections being made. That connection may be due to increased access to books and family involvement (see “Summer reading projects highlight the importance of access and family involvement” article), inspiring and creative teaching (see “No Fear Shakespeare” article) or community programs that raise reading awareness (see “Berkeley County students in Leadership academy recognized” and “The Great American Read” articles). The list goes on.
I have had reason to reflect on my own childhood connection to reading recently and I vividly recall my father’s pride as he asked me to “read” to my grandfather. I was in kindergarten or first grade and my ability was limited, but I was thrilled that these two very special people in my life were excited that I was learning to read. The message was loud and clear—this reading business was really important and worth my time and attention! I also remember my mother in the grocery store saying yes to the purchase of a golden book when the answer was no to candy or a cookie.
This past year, 1,113 trained Read Aloud readers gave that message to students in 1,652 classrooms on a regular basis. Think of it! Assuming 20 students per class, that is 33,040 students who are getting the message that someone cares enough about them and reading to visit the class regularly and share a good book. We know from the teacher evaluations that these visits generate student enthusiasm and interest in books. Additionally, volunteers and donors have enabled us to put books in the hands of more than 8,300 children this school year alone. In a complex world where much seems beyond our control, Read Aloud offers an opportunity for families, educators, donors and volunteers to make a difference. Let’s keep the momentum going!
~ Mary Kay Bond, RAWV Executive Director