SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – When it comes to reading, one nonprofit is looking to give students every advantage possible.
The Ozarks Literacy Council recently launched a new program at Williams Elementary where volunteers will read to a classroom for at least half an hour. This school year, it will continue to happen once a month.
“We read a book called Clementine, and the person who reads to us left some clementine’s for us to eat,” Third-grader Jacey Mahana said.
Every third Wednesday this school year, Mahana will get to have more experiences like this.
“What I like about reading is there’s a bunch of words,” Mahana said. “I like words.”
Amy Jardell, executive director of the Council, helped put this initiative together. She says in the program, 17 volunteers will read to students in preschool-fifth grade. Also, part of this program will be five alternates ready to fill in as needed.
“The experience of having someone read to them may just be the spark that gets them more interested in reading, more interested in a different story or a genre,” Jardell said.
Once a month, kids involved will get to bring a free book home.
“Just came from the research that shows that even just the sheer number of books that a child has in their home affects their literacy level,” Jardell said.
Students will also get to compete in a bookmark contest. On the back of the bookmark will be some tips for parents.
“There will be some questions to ask to help promote more parent involvement with what the kids have going on here at school,” Jardell said.
By the end of this three-year program, Jardell has an idea of what she would like to see.
“An uptick in parent involvement,” Jardell said. “Hopefully an improvement in the [Missouri Assessment Program] MAP test scores. We’re just really trying to throw our net a little bit wider and make a bigger difference with the literacy levels here in Springfield.”