One-on-one reading program seeks volunteers to build literacy, relationships

By Lydia Goerner | Sep 11, 2017
Photo by: Lydia Goerner Marianne Murphy, left, and Sandra Ledvina finish Read To Me! brochures in preparation for the program's kick off.

Adults will have the opportunity to break out their storytelling voice and help kids improve their vocabularies, as Wareham Public Schools' Office of Beyond School Time is implementing a new program where adults read books to preschoolers a few times a month.

The program, Read To Me!, is already in place throughout Cape Cod, said Marianne Murphy, who is starting the program in Onset this fall. Murphy visited it in action and was impressed with the simple concept: one adult reads aloud to one preschooler for 30 minutes twice a month. The readers meet with the same child for 11 visits in a school year, fostering a one-on-one relationship and building literacy skills.

Murphy is seeking more volunteers for the first year of Read To Me! at the Cape Cod Child Development Preschool in Onset, as the first reading date is Oct. 4. The readers are needed the first and third Wednesday of the month through April.

There are 11 volunteers so far, but Murphy said only one man has signed up, so she hopes more men will participate. She said readers will work with the same child each session, reading for about half an hour. The books will already be available and have been donated or borrowed from the library. Some were also donated through the Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Grant. Since the books were selected in advance, they are good quality, Murphy said.

“It’s like reading to your grandkids,” Murphy said. She said it’s important for children to have one-on-one reading time rather than being read to in a whole class. The preschoolers can select books tailored to their interests.

Reading to kids is critical at that age, said Sandra Ledvina, a retired special education preschool teacher from Wareham and a Read to Me! volunteer.

“Children who are read to on a regular basis enter kindergarten knowing 50 million vocabulary words,” Ledvina said. She said children who aren’t read to will have only about 40,000 vocabulary words by that same time.

“Vocabulary is the one real indicator of school success,” Ledvina said. “That needs to start at birth, really.”

It can be difficult for working parents to build reading time into their day, Murphy said, which is why volunteer readers can give the 3 to 5 year olds a boost.

“The most important thing is children being read to and getting books into the hands of children,” Ledvina said.

The Read To Me! kick off meeting will be held Sept. 27. A training for readers will take place in December after they have had some time to get used to the program. Interested volunteers can contact Murphy at mmurphy@wareham.k12.ma.us or 508-291-3500 ext. 3557 and must fill out CORI forms.

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