Art & Culture

America Reads: Changing Lives Through Literacy

“American Reads is a national initiative which utilizes volunteers to improve literacy in America. The program in the Ridge Memorial School reinforces the importance and satisfaction of learning to read. Being a program volunteer has given me the opportunity to remember and share the joys of learning to read, and offers the chance to connect on a weekly basis with young learners.

Despite my extensive teaching background, I was both excited and anxious the first morning as I walked down the hallway to meet the young readers with whom I would be interacting. I had only taught students in the 8th and 9th grades, and for the first time I would be working with a group of 1st graders. My apprehension quickly dissipated as I saw the eager looks on each child’s face.

Volunteering with America Reads has been tremendously rewarding. I will not forget how I felt when a young girl, too shy to read aloud in a small group, gained the self-confidence to read to me. Nor shall I forget the boy, who not wanting to stop reading his book for the break, asked if I would like to share his snack with him while he continued to read. These children were engaged by the story that the words on the page were unfolding, and excited to learn – a skill that is such a critical foundation of the education process.

My time volunteering for America Reads is something that I look forward to each week. I’m sure not all of the children I work with would say that reading is their favorite part of the school day, but helping a youngster decode a word or read a sentence with confidence reminds this retired educator that I can still make a difference.”

(The America Reads program, administered by the Monadnock RSVP Volunteer Center, promotes literacy and provides literacy support to children in grades Pre-K through 3rd grade around the Monadnock Region.

America Reads brings children together with volunteer adult tutors who help them with their reading within the context of a consistent, role model-worthy intergenerational relationship. The program strives to form partnerships with teachers, school staff, early learning programs, and volunteer community members to strengthen literacy efforts.)

Peter Wagoner worked in education for over 30 years as a teacher and administrator. Recently retired, Peter and his wife live in Peterborough, NH. When not volunteering, Peter can be found exploring the mountains.

America Reads