Success Story: Read With Me Goes Virtual

Our May Success Story is not about one learner’s success, but about the over 200 Head Start and Early Head Start families that took part in Midcoast Literacy’s Read With Me program this year.

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For the past 25 years, Read With Me has sent literacy instructors to Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms across our region to lead special story time sessions with an invitation to parents to join in the book-related activities and free books for all. Last August, when we learned that our instructors would not be able to conduct in-person Read With Me sessions, Midcoast Literacy knew we’d need to adapt to keep the program viable. “Providing children and parents the opportunity to come together in a comfortable setting and actively participate in reading books is very important to developing language and literacy skills,” says Robin Buczkowski, MCL’s Read With Me Program Coordinator.

If you follow this newsletter, you have an idea of what happened next. Robin and MCL Program Director, Katie Clark, pivoted to filming our Read With Me books and activities each month and making the recordings available for Head Start and Early Head Start families to stream at home. They met and started collaborating with super-volunteer Richard Wentzel, who filmed and edited the videos. Robin continued to deliver the books to the Head Start Centers, ensuring every child received a copy of the featured book every month. Instead of losing a vital literacy program for an entire school year, Read With Me connected with families in a whole new way. “It’s been hard to know how successful it’s been,” says Robin. “But after being stopped in a store by a child and his mother, I know it’s been completely worthwhile. The little boy told me all about watching me read on his TV and that he liked the activities he got to do. He explained that the shadow puppets he made after reading Bear Shadow went to bed with him every night. The mom thanked me for doing the videos.”

We often talk about how improving literacy is something that happens one child and one family at a time. By going virtual this school year, Read With Me continued to do just that. Congratulations to Robin, Katie, Richard, Head Start and Early Head Start staff, and everyone else who has kept Read With Me happening this year.