August 19, 2013

Mayor’s Newsletter: Help a Child Learn to Read

Mayor’s Update
Tucson, Arizona August 19, 2013
Can you help a young child who’s struggling to read?
Gaining Ground graphic from the Arizona Daily Star's series on poverty, used with permission.

The Arizona Daily Star’s series on poverty, disturbing as it was to read, performed a service to this community.

It described the problem — in ways too vivid to ignore — but it also described solutions. Many Tucsonans are working to make things better. For a commitment of just one hour a week, you could be one of them.

I’ve committed to help Reading Seed recruit an additional 500 volunteer reading coaches, doubling the size of their program. After just one week, we’re 148 new volunteers closer to our goal. The Star has joined this effort, printing the names of those who sign up to volunteer or donate.

At the press conference announcing a drive to add 500 Reading Seed volunteers.
At the press conference announcing a drive to add 500 Reading Seed volunteers

Reading Seed coaches work one-on-one with students in grades K-3 who are reading below grade level. Each coach helps at least two students, meeting in half-hour time slots once a week.

Reading by 3rd grade is important because that’s when problems with reading start to affect everything else. It’s when students go from learning to read to reading to learn.

Reading Seed has no curriculum, no homework. Coaches make reading fun in a no-stress environment, reading books together on subjects the child is interested in. This informal approach helps kids catch up to their classmates with reading gains 36% higher than students without a Reading Seed coach.

Getting excited about reading and learning can change a child’s life and break the cycle of poverty. And, as any coach will tell you, there’s nothing like seeing a child realize, “I can do this!”

How you can help

Volunteer in just 3 steps

1. Sign up for a training.
2. Complete a background check.
3. Attend a training.

Find out more here or call Reading Seed at (520) 798-0700.

Give online or by mail

Donations help with background checks, books, supplies and staffing to train, support and place volunteers. You can give online here or mail a check to Literacy Connects, 2850 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85716 and write “Reading Seed” in the memo.

Reading Seed works primarily with schools that serve low-income populations. This is important, because while an adult’s time and enthusiasm for reading are precious gifts for any child, they are irreplaceable for the child whose parents work several jobs, or have trouble reading themselves.

At the end of the school year, we’re going to have a drawing and a couple of Reading Seed coaches and the students they help are going to come to my office for lunch with the mayor. We’ll all read something together — maybe the first book I ever read, “Go, Dog. Go!”

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