Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Start Making a Reader Today

When I was little the phrase "Reading is Fundamental" was gaining momentum. All I really knew was that someone somewhere was encouraging kids to read.

The Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program has it's roots in 1966 Washington, D.C. Former teacher Margaret McNamara gifted four boys she was tutoring with books. The boys were overjoyed. She soon learned that many children have never owned a book of their own. She organized a group of volunteers, and by December of 1966 the RIF program was launched.

Today I volunteer with a program that is very similar to RIF. Every week, for one hour, I read with a child. The program I participate in is SMART: Start Making a Reader Today.

The SMART program is a non-profit literacy organization in Oregon. Children are chosen for the program on a case-by-case basis. The child is pulled from class for fifteen minutes twice per week to read with a caring adult volunteer.

Twice per month the child is given a choice of books to take home. The child is encouraged to take books at their current reading level. Over the course of the school year the SMART kids should receive a total of sixteen books. Children can participate in SMART any time during K-3 grades. If a child participates all four years they should have a collection of sixty-four books!

The program is completely dependent on adult volunteers. It takes only one hour a day, once a week, but you can make a difference for a lifetime. Often children are chosen for the program based on circumstances or reading ability. Either way all children benefit from reading and being read to.

Reading ignites the imagination, improves vocabulary and spelling, and increases a child's success rate in school and life. The RIF program is available in all fifty states. SMART is an Oregon program. Make the time. Start making a reader today!

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