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Shepherdstown Elementary joins Read Aloud West Virginia program

By Staff | Oct 12, 2018

Read Aloud West Virginia Executive Director Mary Kay Bond gives an example of how to read "Don't Fidget a Feather!" to a class during the New Volunteer Orientation on Oct. 3. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

KEARNEYSVILLE — Read Aloud West Virginia drew over a dozen adult readers to learn about and sign up to participate in its literacy program, during its New Volunteer Orientation at the U.S. Coast Guard Operations Systems Center on Oct. 3.

Read Aloud West Virginia’s new executive director, Mary Kay Bond, spoke during the meeting about the influence adults have in the literacy process. Bond, who started the organization with a friend in 1986, was asked this year to rejoin the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization by its board, after West Virginia schools’ participation in the program started declining.

“Children are not hearing fairy tales in first and second grade anymore. They’re not hearing fables. They’re not hearing tall tales — none of them have heard about West Virginias folk hero John Henry. We have a rich literary heritage that the next generation needs to be aware of,” Bond said.

The program requires elementary and middle school principals to submit the schools’ basic contact information at the beginning of the school year, and to later provide the organization with a list of the teachers who would like a reader to visit their classes once a week for a minimum of 15 minutes. According to Bond, readers get to request a school to read in, and can specify certain days and times during the week when they would be available to read.

Volunteers are encouraged to read expressively and interact with children by dramatically reading the stories, which can be selected from the RAWV book list or from the volunteers’ library searches. One reason Bond encourages this expressive reading, is because children are more likely to want to read if they have connected with a book emotionally.

“I guarantee you, it is money in the bank that you will change lives. We focus a lot in our schools on IQ, but we need to focus on ‘HQ’ — heart quotient. Make them think with their hearts as well as their minds, Bond said, mentioning she hopes to see boys’ reading proficiency increase in the state, to rival the reading proficiency levels of their female peers, as a result of the program.

This year, Shepherdstown Elementary School Principal Scott Jacobson signed up the school for its first year as a member of RAWV. Jefferson County RAWV Chapter President Laurie Saunders said she was excited to see the school join the program.

“This is a new territory for us, it’s a new school,” Saunders said. “Read Aloud West Virginia is very rewarding. It’s all fun, and it welcomes children to new opportunities through reading.”

To learn more, contact Saunders at lauriepdx@outlook.com or 703-727-2518, or visit readaloudwestvirginia.org/.