Tag Archives: reading

“SMART” begins again… and to celebrate: Apple Pie!

21 Oct

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.
S.I. Hayakawa

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!


Day 36: Another year as a SMART volunteer comes to a close

13 May

Today was the “end of year” celebration for the SMART program at Helman Elementary. SMART stands for “Start Making A Reader Today.”The SMART reading program helps kids become confident readers by providing individual volunteer attention and new, take-home books every month. I have been a SMART volunteer for many years and love spending time reading with the children and watching them as they pick up clues and begin to learn to read. While it is not our job to teach kids to read, I think we support that process and I do my best to instill a love for reading.

As a volunteer for this program, I feel that my responsibility is to be a good role model and a caring adult. Occasionally, I am reminded that some of the children face challenges that I cannot begin to imagine. When I volunteered in Portland, I showed up and the little girl that I read to was absent. The next week as we walked to the SMART room, I asked her if she had been sick that week. Very casually she told me “No. My dad was hitting my Mom and we called the police and they took him away.” I was grateful that she was not looking at me at the time because I was stunned. It felt insignificant to be there to read with her when she faced much greater obstacles. I suppose that, at the least, it was a welcome respite for her.

Fortunately, that sort of thing has been rare in my time as a SMART volunteer… most of the time it’s just about reading good books with emerging readers. I have loved the time I have spent with this program and think that helping a child learn to love reading is a wonderful way to make a difference in their life.

Today I made an Apple Blueberry Pie for my SMART coordinator, Sam.  If you live in Jackson County and would like to learn more about SMART, please contact Julie Brimble @ 541-734-5628.