Promoting volunteerism to
expand and strengthen community services
The AVID Readers Program
The problem is that we have concentrated exclusively on teaching children how to read, and we have forgotten to teach them to want to read. There is the key: desire. It is the prime mover, the magic ingredient. -- Jim Trelease, The New Read-Aloud Handbook
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, 142 preschool-aged children are getting excited about reading thanks to 72 adult and youth volunteers who share their passion for books on a weekly basis as part of AVID Readers (Area Volunteers Instilling Desire).
AVID is a simple program with a big impact. Its mission is to promote a lifelong love of reading in the children of Tulsa by recruiting adult and youth volunteers to read books for one hour a week one-to-one with children in area child care centers. Volunteers typically read with two children from infancy through age six for 30 minutes each. In addition to having their own reading mentor, children in AVID also receive one book a month to keep.
The program was developed in response to research that shows nearly 40 percent of fourth graders cannot read at grade level (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1998). A two-year evaluation of a similar program in Oregon called SMART (Start Making a Reader Today), which focused on elementary school children, showed that students made significant gains in word identification, reading fluency, and word comprehension.
AVID currently operates in five child care centers. AVIDs community support has continued to increase: the advisory board has grown to 26 members; Second Presbyterian Church has donated office space and computer equipment; and the Junior League of Tulsa has adopted AVID with 12 volunteers set to begin in September. A new AVID newsletter
Members with VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) are working to meet AVIDs goals of recruiting 150 volunteers to read with 300 children in six child care centers by the end of 2000. Volunteers read with children either on a regular basis or as part of special days such as Read Across America events and United Way Day of Caring.
AVID is funded by local Tulsa foundations and the Corporation for National Service (AmeriCorps*VISTA). Along with additional funding, volunteers and new or gently-used books are needed to expand AVID across Tulsa and into outlying communities. With the communitys support, Tulsas children will start school ready to learn and will become avid readers themselves.
For more information about AVID, to volunteer, or to donate books, contact Krista Schumacher, AVID Readers program director.
The Corporation for National Service is a federal agency that oversees the various branches of national service, including AmeriCorps, VISTA, Learn and Serve, and the National Senior Service Corps. The web site, www.cns.gov, contains information about national service opportunities across the country and includes National Service news, the bi-weekly newsletter of the CNS.
VISTA Members Needed for AVID Readers: AVID Readers (Area Volunteers Instilling Desire) seeks several Early Childhood Education students and graduates to serve as AmeriCorps*VISTA members for at least one year. Click here for more information. To apply, send a resume and cover letter to Krista Schumacher, AVID Readers, 1430 S. Boulder, Tulsa, OK 74119. E-submissions should be sent as an attachment in Microsoft Word or PDF format to firstname.lastname@example.org.