Volunteers promote literacy in Alabama through Read Across America

Volunteers promote literacy in Alabama through Read Across America
APSO volunteers were among those who read to students in Anniston during Read Across America week. (contributed)

Oh, the places you’ll go, little ones.

Dr. Seuss’s beloved books have held their place in children’s hearts for generations because of their tongue-twisting, catchy and humorous storylines. Combine that with passionate volunteers across the state who understand childhood literacy is an essential tool in guiding success in their future, and you get a weeklong celebration.

Read Across America encourages volunteers to bring out their inner child to encourage a lifelong path of achievement in children. From Feb. 26 to March 2, nonprofits and schools across the country worked in conjunction as part of the largest celebration of reading in the country.

For the past six years, United Way of East Central Alabama (UWECA) has led the effort to make sure students in Calhoun County classrooms were adopted by volunteers who act as literacy cheerleaders.

Jessica Smith, Marketing and Programs director for UWECA, has a passion for Read Across America and helps coordinate volunteers.

“Read Across America is one of our favorite events here at United Way of East Central Alabama,” Smith said. “Reading is very critical to a child’s success in life and we are so thankful to be able to play a small role in making reading fun and memorable for pre-K and kindergartners across Calhoun County.”

Volunteers took the children through the classic lesson of “treat others the way you want to be treated” by reading Giles Andreae’s book, “Giraffes Can’t Dance.” The story provided students a reminder to be kind. Children and adults alike extended their arms and swayed back and forth as if they were a dancing giraffe.

Oxford Elementary School Principal Jordan Weathers understands the importance of volunteers being role models for students. The Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO), in coordination with the Public Library of Anniston – Calhoun County, donates books to be left in all 118 classrooms and provides volunteers to engage with some of the youngest faces in the community.

APSO volunteer Candace Simpson said promoting childhood literacy is a fulfilling way to give back to her community.

“Reading to pre-K students is always so much fun,” Simpson said. “Being able to watch children’s imagination come alive through the words on the page is truly satisfying and I look forward to it year after year.”

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