“What do you think the book was about?” asked Amy Carmichael of Bath Housing to a class at West Bath Elementary School. Carmichael read Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss during the 17th annual Community Read Aloud. A second grade student answered the reader, “No matter how small you are – you’re a person and you have a voice.”
“Reading aloud is a way to engage kids in conversation about topics like respect and perseverance even when you don’t have a background in education,” said Carmichael, and “the Community Read Aloud is valuable because it’s great when students see other people who care about them and their learning.”
Carmichael also read The Places You’ll Go and asked the class to identify its themes. “Adventure!” shouted one student. Another said, “Sometimes it may not always be easy, but you have to try.”
United Way’s Community Read Aloud is a celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and an opportunity to share our love of reading with young children. Each year nearly 4,500 Mid Coast children are read to by approximately 200 volunteers in elementary schools, child care centers, and Head Starts from Waldoboro to Brunswick.
Lois Skillings, President and CEO of Mid Coast-Parkview, has been a volunteer reader for many years. “Each year I leave the event in awe of teachers. It’s amazing to watch them in the classroom and see their work – they have BIG jobs!”
Peter Lindsay of United Way said “When community members like Skillings are welcomed in our schools and child care centers, they are able to witness the great work being done to support our children’s development. The children benefit by being introduced to other adults who enjoy reading, share why reading is important to them, and care about their literacy growth.”
“I have served as a Volunteer Reader several times now over the years and it has been a complete pleasure each time,” said Peggy Schick of Maine Maritime Museum. “The kids are thrilled to have a new person come into the classroom to read to them. It’s such a fun way to connect with children in our community and to share the personal joys of reading!”
Emily Morrill of Independence Association enjoyed visiting Family Focus at Brunswick Landing. Morrill said the Community Read Aloud is “a great opportunity for the community” and shared “that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy reading and going on adventures through books.”
United Way is dedicated to ensuring that all our Mid Coast children get the best possible start in life with the support of their families and the whole community. One of our ways to accomplish this goal is to promote reading to infants and young children because national research has shown - and teachers in our region have confirmed - that reading regularly to young children is one of the best indicators of later success in school.
Leading up to the Community Read Aloud, United Way took part in the Maine Department of Education’s Read to ME social media challenge, encouraging reading aloud with children for at least 15 minutes a day. According to Maine’s DOE, “In order to achieve the goal of having a highly literate population in Maine, our collective efforts must begin early in children’s lives when their brains are rapidly developing.”
Benefits of reading aloud include language exposure, vocabulary building, and positive adult-child bonding experiences. In addition to helping put children on the path to high literacy achievement, reading aloud is also fun.
“The Community Read Aloud also offers a time for students to engage in conversation with adults other than their teachers and family members around books and reading,” said Lindsay.
Tammy Doran of Phippsburg Elementary School said the Community Read Aloud is beneficial because “children hear reading is important in a fun way and feel more connected to the community when they meet the great volunteers.”
The Community Read Aloud was organized by Sue Bryer at United Way of Mid Coast Maine, and was sponsored by Comcast, the Rotary Club of Topsham Expresso, and Oxford Networks.
United Way of Mid Coast Maine’s mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities. In partnership with thousands of donors, United Way works to improve education, financial stability, and health for people in Brunswick and Harpswell, Sagadahoc and Lincoln Counties.
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