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 The New York Times: “Those heroic grandparents actually raising their grandchildren. More than a million children live in their grandparents’ households without parents present, says the advocacy group Generations United. Grandparents who are distant, geographically or otherwise, probably also have different experiences.”
From Education Dive: “Home visits for families with young children in Florida’s largest county have dramatically reduced abuse and neglect, increased immunization rates to near 100%, reduced unwanted pregnancies and have cut sudden infant death syndrome cases in half.”
From The Capital Times: “I don’t object to programs that bring high-quality books into a child’s home, but that emphasis is often misplaced; the book itself does little if handed to a child without any other interaction. A child learns the magic and power of reading only when a loving, nurturing, responsive caregiver (usually a parent, but could be anyone) reads aloud with them. A book that sits on the shelf is useless — it only does its magic when open in the hands of a parent and child reading together.”