United Way of North Central Massachusetts is launching a Summer Book Club to encourage children to keep reading while on summer break.
United Way wants to recruit 115 volunteers, who will be asked to read to nearly 500 children over the summer. "This is an important initiative, because research shows that reading is linked to success," said Karin Oliveira, director of United Way Community Builders.
According to United Way research, children are learning to read during the first few years of school, but after fourth grade they're reading to learn. "Without strong reading skills, they fall behind, disengage and often drop out or struggle," Oliveira says.
Volunteers will be trained in reading techniques so the K-5 students are engaged and actively listening. They are expected to commit to 2.5 hours per week for six weeks. United Way has identified 12 locations where the volunteers and children meet: Guild of St. Agnes' offices in Fitchburg, Gardner and Devens; HOPE, Gardner; Montachusett Interfaith Hospitality Network, Leominster; Creative Choices Summer Program, Leominster; 21st Century Summer Program , Fitchburg and Leominster; YMCA, Winchendon and Fitchburg; Boys & Girls Club, Leominster; and the Cleghorn Neighborhood Center, Fitchburg.
Anyone interested in volunteering may register online at http://www.community-builders.net/ or call the United Way of North Central Massachusetts at 978-345-1577, ext. 26, Karin Oliveira.
To encourage children to participate, TD Bank will open a $10 savings account for each student who completes the program.
The Summer Book Club is an initiative that supports United Way Worldwide's national strategy to mobilize communities around education. The national organization has issued an EDUCATION VOLUNTEER CALL TO ACTION that hopes to recruit one million people-including young adults, retirees, faith communities and employees-to join the effort over the next three years.
United Way of North Central Massachusetts serves the communities of Ashburnham, Ashby, Ayer, Barre, Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Hubbardston, Leominster, Littleton, Lunenburg, Pepperell, Shirley, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster and Winchendon.