HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – National Read to a Child Day is coming up October 8th! Meet the non-profit that started this event – all about companionship and inspiring a love of books.
“Those little smiles, the faces light up when the volunteer comes through the door,” says Read to a Child Vice Chair, Holly Lerose, as she looks over to several reading teams, laughing while engaged in a story.
The voices are clear and the smiles are bright.
“The mission of Read to a Child is to foster a love of reading, improve literacy skills and ultimately empower under-served children by inspiring adults to read to them regularly,” says CEO Paul Lamoureux.
Once a week, a child and a volunteer get together for story time here at Hartford’s Betances School. But the program takes place everyday, serving a significant amount of kids. “It’s a magical experience and, from that connection, all sorts of good things happen,” he says. “The self esteem, confidence improves. literacy skills improve.”
Lerose, also a volunteer, appear at school during lunch, meaning no class time is lost and readers can help during a work break. They often partner with the same child from Kindergarten through the 4th Grade.
“You have the opportunity to not only have that mentor relationship in terms of developing the reading skills but the personal relationship outpaces that by far,” says Lerose.
“Our kids ask for it. They wonder when their reader is coming. It’s something they look forward to every week,” says Brenda Niemitz, school social worker.
Like many volunteers, Lerose became involved through her employer, Travelers. “We recruit, manage, vet and train all volunteers from the community as well as countless corporations,” says Lamoureux.
Read to a Child relies – 100% – on donations and grants. Studies show that learning to love books makes a huge difference in a kid’s future. “You watch over the course of the year, two years, when you get to the point of, ‘Miss Holly, look at this book!'” says Lerose. “It’s just a wonderful program.”
Click here to learn more about National Read to a Child Day! On October 8th, share your adventures in reading with a youngster by using the hashtag #ReadToAChild.