Family & Children’s Service (FCS), Monmouth County’s oldest, private non-profit social service agency, is seeking volunteers for its school-based read aloud program, Reading Buddies, currently operating in 17 Monmouth County public elementary schools. Reading Buddies places specially-trained adult volunteers in the classroom to read aloud to small groups of kindergarten and first grade students to encourage reading participation and advance literacy.
According to the International Reading Association, reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for developing early literacy skills. Reading aloud furthers a child’s vocabulary, comprehension and imagination, putting them on track for future educational success. FCS Volunteer Services Director Samantha White says children who are read to also are more likely to value books, model the reader’s behavior and begin reading on their own.
“Sadly,” White explains, “Not every household is equipped or capable of fostering early childhood literacy. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that one in three American children start kindergarten without the skills they need to learn to read. Our Reading Buddies help fill a critical gap between children who are read to at an early age and those who are not.”
White says the Reading Buddies program also benefits the volunteers, many of whom are retired and welcome the opportunity to share their lifetime of skills and experience with younger generations. Currently 160 Reading Buddies volunteers serve more than 1,600 students throughout the county.
Some have been volunteering for more than a decade, reading to hundreds of children and forging lifelong friendships with their fellow readers.
No previous classroom experience is required to be a Reading Buddy, but volunteers are asked to commit to read once a week, every week during the school year. For more information about becoming a volunteer, contact program coordinator Marlena Scarola at 732-222-9111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.