Read Aloud had not been an active program in Summers County schools for a few years. There were still a few trained readers who were reading in the classrooms but the majority of the classrooms were not participating.
WV Read Aloud reached out to Summers County about getting an active chapter up and going. A chapter was formed in August consisting of a board of education member, local librarian, retired teachers, members of Yummy Bags Ministry and a representative (teacher) from each elementary school and Head Start.
Stacy Ford agreed to serve as chair of the chapter and the group has been making big progress. Since the fall, two volunteer reader orientations have been held, training 38 volunteer readers for the county. All three elementary schools are participating and have a school coordinator. Head Start is also participating for the first time; reaching infants to Pre-K aged children.
All but 3 classrooms in the county have a trained volunteer reader coming to the classroom weekly and reading aloud for about 30 minutes.
Reading aloud may not seem like a critical part of education but it is one of the most valuable tools they will get. The United States Department of Education has called it the “single most important” tool for gaining the skills that are necessary for learning to read and the ability to read is the foundation for all knowledge.
Besides the educational tools reading aloud to a child can also form bonds between a parent and a child, create a positive environment and hopefully ignite their motivation to learn.
Since becoming active in Read Aloud all schools have received free magazines to either use in the classroom or for the child to take home, have had access to free book trunks through Read Aloud WV to expand the classroom library and interacted with members of the community weekly.
Stacy has applied for funding to implement a program called “Snuggle and Read” at Head Start. The program will involve 78 children and their parent and/or guardian. Snuggle and Read is an activity between parent and child that includes making a fleece lap blanket together and after its completion, the child snuggles up on the parent’s lap with the blanket and chooses a book to be read aloud. The child will then associate reading as a fun and nurturing activity. The child gets to take the blanket home as well as a new book. Snuggle and Read will engage parents in their child’s education and hopefully start a new tradition at home.
If funded the project will be at Head Start only, but the chapter would like to expand to all pre-K programs in the county. The funding will cover the cost of the fleece and the chapter is looking for additional funding for books.
Read Aloud works to keep reading material in the hands and on the minds of West Virginian’s children. The organization places trained readers in school to provide live commercials for reading, distribute books, educate families and the community about their role in cultivating literacy and provides enrichment materials to schools and teachers. Learn more about Read Aloud WV at readaloudwestvirginial.org or find them on facebook.com/ReadAloud. If you’re interested in supporting Summers County Read Aloud please contact Stacy Ford at 304-575-7026 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Mary Kay Bond, WV State Read Aloud Director providing training in Summers County.