Last week began another year of SMART reading for those of us who volunteer with this organization. As I’ve mentioned many times, I am a huge fan of the SMART program because its’ goal is to help young people become “confident and successful readers.” Each week from mid-October to mid-May, volunteers spend one hour reading to two children… and once a month each child receives a book to keep. It’s easy, it’s rewarding, and it’s so very important to their educational success.
The SMART website states that: Learning to read is one of the most important steps in a child’s life, laying the vital foundation for future knowledge and education. Prevailing research proves that shared book reading and the availability of books in the home during a child’s first, formative years are the strongest predictors of early literacy skills. SMART provides both.
I’ve been a SMART reader for a long time – and I hope to continue to be one for many years to come. Reading to my own children when they were younger was a favorite activity for me. I still have most of their books and I plan to read them with my grandchildren one day… and until then I will be happy sharing those same books with children who have not yet heard the stories.
And now for the funny (as in a little bit strange) part of my week… Last Monday I met a young woman named Ally who seemed very familiar. It took a little while for me to realize that I was her SMART reader more than a dozen years ago! Ally then told me that she still has all of the books that she received through the program – which I think is a very good indication that she enjoyed her time in the program.
The next day I made an Apple Crumb Crust Pie for Ally’s mom, Cathy. While I’ve not seen Cathy in a long time, at one time we were volunteers together… and I’d just been reminded that those moments spent volunteering are pretty special indeed.
It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
SMART readers are always needed – If you have an hour a week to give to SMART, and live in Jackson County, please call this number: 541-734-5628, or go to their website, www.getsmartoregon.org. Thank you!