Many public schools in Southern California are extremely overcrowded. The size and inventory of the libraries seldom adjust to meet the great increase in number of students. The Wonder of Reading offers a new solution to this constant problem. First, the organization renovates the library, providing comfortable areas including steps for group reading and workstations for tutoring. Then they work with the school library committee to replace the library's outdated or ruined books. The third step is recruiting and training volunteers to read one-on-one with the students for one hour a week for the entire school year. By the end of 2003, The Wonder of Reading will have renovated over 100 libraries, provided over a million dollars' worth of new books, trained over 1,200 volunteers, and reached over 145,000 students.
When a school contacts The Wonder of Reading, they've already committed to their literacy program. They are responsible to raise a portion of the money to begin the project, commit the space of two classrooms for the new library, and assist in recruiting volunteers. They also must promise to maintain the libraries once completed. This partnership between school, parents, community and program guarantees that the benefits will be long-term. With the new libraries and books available for students to read, they journey by into worlds they create themselves instead of witnessing on television or a video game.
Teachers attest that students love the individual attention the volunteers provide, and children build an air of confidence after working with their reading partner. They report that over 90% of students working with The Wonder of Reading volunteers exhibit improved reading skills as well as improved attitudes toward reading. Students attest, "Reading is my absolute best favorite subject in school"... "[Reading is] like going to another world"...and, "Reading is fun. If you don't think so, you should keep trying."
Even the The Wonder of Reading Newsletter incorporates the kids. Page 3 of "Let's Read" is "The Students' Corner, Featuring Work By And For Students!" Here you'll find poems, short stories, and drawings by the students who participate in The Wonder of Reading program at their school. They offer the author/artist $5 if their work is published. Imagine their excitement and pride!
The Wonder of Reading
Beth Michelson, Executive Director
120 N. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048