Our ReadingPals volunteers have been paired with thousands of young children in Florida. They build meaningful relationships and help improve their social-emotional development and early literacy skills.
Why is ReadingPals Important?
In 2022, 50% of children in Florida are not ready for Kindergarten and 47% of students cannot read at a minimally proficient level by the end of third grade. Early intervention and individualized attention gives students the best likelihood of success. Studies show that children with mentors are more confident and have fewer behavioral problems.
What Do We Hope to Achieve?
- MENTORING: To build a love of reading through impactful relationships between students and mentors.
- EARLY LITERACY: To improve students’ understanding of the fundamental building blocks of early literacy.
- SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: To help students build a strong social-emotional foundation through self-awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.
Where is ReadingPals Available?
ReadingPals is managed by The Children’s Movement of Florida, United Ways and numerous community partners. Our local partners in 20+ Florida counties help us provide in-person ReadingPals opportunities in hundreds of classrooms, child care centers and afterschool programs. Some regions also offer a virtual mentoring version of ReadingPals, accessible from any smart device.
2022-2023 ReadingPals Impact
- 19 Participating Counties
- 500 Classrooms
- 2,575 Students Matched
- 1,317 Volunteer Mentors
- 36,871 Take-Home Books Donated
- 61,919 Reading Sessions
What is the Commitment?
ReadingPals volunteers are asked to commit an hour per week with their student(s) for 25+ weeks during the school year (some programs may offer a 30-minute per week or semester option). Thousands of volunteers have made this commitment, many of which return for multiple years!
What Impact Have You Made?
Over the last decade, more than 25,000 students have received a ReadingPals mentor and a share of 470,000 donated books. This is all made possible thanks to the Barnett family’s generosity and passion for promoting literacy and early childhood development.
How Can I Get Started?
Once signed up through The Children’s Movement of Florida or local United Way/agency, volunteers are connected with a regional coordinator who will provide details about participating schools in your area, available time slots, background screening, training, and curriculum.
What Else Can I Do?
ReadingPals volunteers see the importance of early education first-hand and gain exposure to the challenges many teachers and students face in the classroom. We hope the ReadingPals experience will inspire our volunteers to become advocates alongside The Children’s Movement, promoting greater investment in Florida’s youngest children.
Celebrating 11 Years of ReadingPals
Our 2023 ReadingPals Conference & Celebration convened hundreds of our volunteers, partners, and parents. We explored the importance of early literacy intervention, mentoring, and the Science of Reading. Take a look at the full recap of our event, speakers, and resources here.
Statewide Volunteer Training Module: The Science of Reading
At the start of the 2023-2024 school year, The Children’s Movement of Florida hosted our first statewide training module for ReadingPals volunteers and partners. Here, you can watch the recorded training video (60 minutes), download the presentation, and explore some of the online resources shared in the presentation.
From Tallahassee Democrat: "One hour of your time each week spent helping a child in pre-K to third grade learn to read can not only put that young boy or girl on equal footing with classmates, but it also helps ensure future academic and career success."
From Citrus County Chronicle: “The grant program is measured for success. Reports show that the children who participate in ReadingPals have greater learning gains than those who don’t.”
From Clay Today: “Reading to young children sets the groundwork for a child’s future ability to read and learn,” said ELC Early Literacy Coordinator Joan Whitson.
From K-12 Dive: “We only get one chance to do early childhood right, so we want to be able to give children and organizations the opportunity to be able to have the best opportunities for the future.”
From South Florida Sun Sentinel: “Through the ReadingPals program, volunteers connect with students from pre-K to second grade in an effort to establish a love for literacy while improving reading and comprehension competence.”
From The Daytona Beach News-Journal: “When students read with their reading mentors, they don’t see it as work, so it is no longer stressful or overwhelming. They begin to love reading.”
From Tampa Bay Times: “I don’t take for granted knowing how to read. Being able to teach to those younger than me is something I’m dedicated to doing.”
From WPTV-NBC 5: “When the mothers go to work, volunteers usually help care for the babies.”
From Citrus County Chronicle: “Norma and Russ Brondyke, who have been mentoring in Citrus County schools for the past 26 years, added the “Reading Pals” program of United Way as one of their new assignments last year.”
From Ocala StarBanner: “It helps encourage them so that they don’t shut down. We just need people who are willing to volunteer their time to come in and sit with kids to help them.”
From South Florida Sun Sentinel: “Not only can we help guide these young people to a place where they are fully empowered to ultimately stand tall as confident adults, but we also can build stronger bonds between law enforcement and the families and communities they serve.”
From Click Orlando: “Every year, the barbers, who are also fathers, give away free haircuts to kids as they head back to school. They also donate tons of free backpacks with paper, pencils and other school supplies.”
From Citrus County Chronicle: “One hour per week has the possibility to change a young life — and to change yours.”
From CBS Miami: “The goal of ‘PATH’ is to inspire, educate and entertain, while challenging negative stereotypes and destructive behaviors often associated with hip hop culture.”
From The Gainesville Sun: “It was held for the second consecutive year to encourage fathers and other male figures in the lives of students in Head Start to help those kids understand the importance of getting a good education and being productive citizens.”
From Action News Jax: “Research shows that the more adults that speak into a child’s life, the more successful they’re going to be.”
From WMFE: “As people get into adulthood, it becomes harder and harder to change, so what we want to do is to make sure that children have great mentors, positive role models, the support that they need, examples and then just some fun quite frankly.”
From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “His new mission is to show the students that being black and achieving success does not have to involve athletics or the entertainment industry.”
From Suwannee Democrat: “ReadingPals emphasizes the importance of early literacy as a foundation for learning; around the state, many children struggle with basic academic concepts because they never learned to read.”
From Suwannee Democrat: “ReadingPals are paired with struggling students. The volunteer works 1-on-1 with their assigned student for the length of the program. Books and training materials are provided.”