A few years ago, a co-worker of mine brought my attention to the local Everybody Wins! program. A few people in the office volunteered on a weekly basis to visit a local school and spend a lunch hour reading to a child. The idea of this was very appealing to me because I had done similar volunteering in the past. Additionally, I value the importance of being read to. I was lucky as a child and had a family ready to read to me at any time, but not everyone is so lucky.
Now I’m starting my third year in the program and cannot say enough good things about it. This organization has really figured out a way to make it easy for local professionals to get out into the community and to make a difference. The kids look forward to it, the volunteers look forward to it, and every week happens smoothly, which is impressive in and of itself.
Some statistics that I found on their Boston Metro site (http://www.ewmb.org/subpage.htm?provenresults.htm) further drive home the importance of this program:
- The National Institute of Education’s Commission on Reading identified in its report Becoming a Nation of Readers that “The single most important activity for building knowledge required for the eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” The study found conclusive evidence to support its use not only in the home but also in the classroom and declared it to be “a practice that should continue throughout the grades”. (1)
- A 2002 report revealed that children who are read to at least three times a week are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading than children who are read to less than 3 times a week. (2)
- Children from low-income families are at a disadvantage. In 2002, it was determined that 62% of parents with a high socioeconomic status read to their children every day, compared to 36% of parents with a low socioeconomic status. (3)
- Children who are enthusiastic about books and reading are likely to be better readers. A recent study showed that students who talked about reading with family and friends, however frequently, had higher average scores than students who never or hardly ever talk about reading. Students who talked about reading once or twice a week performed the highest. (4)
On top of how beneficial this is for the children, volunteers benefit quite a bit, as well. It’s something that I look forward to every week, you get to explore exciting children’s’ literature, and, sometimes, you even learn quite a bit yourself!
Everybody Wins! is present in multiple communities across the country. You can visit the main website for the Everybody Wins! USA program here: http://everybodywins.org/
(1) Trelease, J. The New Read-Aloud Handbook, Penguin Group, New York, NY, 1989
(2) Denton, Kristen and Gerry West, Children’s Reading and Mathematics Achievement in Kindergarten and First Grade, U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Washington, DC, 2002
(3) Coley, Richard J., An Uneven Start: Indicators of Inequality in School Readiness, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ, 2002
(4) Donahue, P. L., A. D. Finnegan, and N. L. Lutkus, The Nation’s Report Card: Fourth-Grade Reading 2001, U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Washington, DC 2001