Research dictates that when students fall behind in reading, individualized or small group assistance proves to be most beneficial. EveryBody Reads is based on this theory and individually pairs dedicated volunteers called Reading Friends with students who are underperforming in reading by one or two levels. Pre-k – second graders are recommended to the program by their teachers who advise staff on the students’ reading deficiencies as well as the most appropriate times during the school day to schedule the tutoring sessions. Volunteers are trained to strengthen literacy skills in the following areas, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, phonics, and sight words. The most overarching goal of the program is to create a nurturing environment filled with fun and friendship that allows students an opportunity to begin to enjoy reading.
Reading Friends must be 18 years or older, pass a background check, and attend a training. Once volunteers complete these preliminary requirements, they are paired with a student. Volunteers may choose the school for which they wish to serve; however, our North Baton Rouge schools have the most need. Reading Friends commit to meet with their student at least once a week throughout the school year for 30-45 minutes depending on the student’s attention span. Following a tutoring session, Reading Friends must report their visits to the staff using various digital platforms. We must be assured that students are being serviced as we do not want a participating student to experience another disappointment as a result of a volunteer failing to repeatedly show up.
Volunteers are emailed a weekly guide that outlines a flexible format along with strategies that focus on one of the key literacy skills. Many of the teachers will offer materials they would like the volunteer to review during the session. Volunteers are invited to attend the monthly Connect meetings that present a deep dive into an area of interest or challenge discussed by our volunteers. These meetings are often led by an education instructor from one of our universities or a literacy director from the school district. Most EveryBody Reads schools possess a Reading Bin filled with books on various reading levels, featuring diverse characters to allow students to see themselves in their reading material; plus, hands-on reading manipulatives including eraser boards, foam letters, flash cards, play dough, crayons, and markers.
Additional Ways to Help
- Host a book drive to collect new or gently read easy readers to donate to our EveryBody Reads library. Volunteers use these books to gift to their students throughout the year.
- Serve as a classroom “Come and Read” Reader to read to pre-k – third grade class
- Host A Building a Legacy Campaign where your organization, business or club purchase new books for an entire school or classroom(s).
- Start a book club at a school that allows students to read and discuss books of their own interest
Our data demonstrates that students who receive between 10-15 consistent tutoring sessions from a Reading Friend improve by 14.5% above those students recommended but not paired with a Reading Friend on standardized reading assessments. Each year, VIPS receives approximately 1,000 student recommendations.