ELC, RSVP seek volunteer ‘Reading Pals’


The Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of North Florida and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of St. Johns County are seeking volunteers to expand the Reading Pals program. 

ELC Reading Pals are matched with local preschool centers, while the RSVP Program places readers in Head Start and VPK classrooms to read once a week to children. Recently, the Head Start program added six new classrooms, and volunteers are urgently needed.

Training for new Reading Pals will be held on Thursday, Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to noon at the St. Augustine Record Building at 1 News Place in St. Augustine. In addition learning how to choose age-appropriate books, volunteers will learn helpful information about child development, including the attention span of preschoolers, who to present books to preschoolers, and promoting early literacy through phonetic reading. 

“It is so exciting when you see children learn, that letters make words and words turn into stories,” volunteer Reading Pal Karen Brown said. “I love to make books fun; if you can make children laugh, you can get them interested in learning. Pull out a puppet, wear a silly nose, speak in different voices. You have nothing to lose -- but your dignity -- so have a good time reading.”

Studies have shown that the best opportunity to influence a child’s lifetime learning is before kindergarten, and that instilling an early love for reading in children is crucial for future success in school. 

To register or for more information about this training, contact Joan Whitson, early literacy coordinator at (904) 342-2267 or email jwhitson@elcnorthflorida.org; or RSVP Director Cheryl Freeman at Cheryl.Freeman@stjohns.k12.fl.us.