ReadingPals is a statewide early literacy initiative that provides volunteer mentors for students from pre-k to 3rd grade who may need extra help.

ReadingPals - two girls in a classroom

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.

ReadingPals Logo

What Do We Hope to Achieve?

  1. MENTORING: To build a love of reading through impactful relationships between students and mentors.
  2. EARLY LITERACY: To improve students’ understanding of the fundamental building blocks of early literacy.
  3. 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.

See where ReadingPals operates

2021-2022 ReadingPals Impact

  • 1,502 Students Matched
  • 991 Volunteer Mentors
  • 379 Classrooms
  • 34,682 Take-Home Books Donated
ReadingPals: Kids reading a book

Join ReadingPals

Boy holding book

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 10 Years of ReadingPals

We celebrated 10 years of ReadingPals by hosting a virtual conference for hundreds of our volunteers, partners and parents, all centered around the importance of relationships and early brain development. Take a look at the full recap of our event, speakers and resources here


ReadingPals News


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Joy of Grandparenting

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.”


Monday, May 7, 2018

Home visits in early childhood provide benefits for students and schools

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.”


Monday, April 23, 2018

Dr. Dipesh Navsaria: Reading programs are really about supporting strong parent-child bonds

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.”

Our Partners


ReadingPals 2018-2019 Statewide Annual Report Cover

ReadingPals 2018-2019 Statewide Annual Report

ReadingPals 2018-2019 Statewide Annual Volunteer Survey

ReadingPals 2018-2019 Statewide Annual Volunteer Survey