“There are many little ways to enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all.” — Jacquelyn Kennedy
It’s no secret that education looks a little bit different these days – and for underserved children in many of Greater Hartford’s public schools, remote and hybrid learning models have underscored the need for one-on-one literacy support. That’s why Children’s Reading Partners, a Federation initiative that has provided volunteer literacy services and books to thousands of local preschoolers and elementary school students over 23 years, has gone 100% virtual.
During a normal school year, Children's Reading Partners offers an onsite Elementary Express program in several local school districts, where reading mentors read books with at-risk pre-K through sixth-grade students for 30 minutes each week. This year, Elementary Express volunteers are still providing mentoring services, but over Zoom. The program currently serves 42 children from nine partner sites; a new round of remote volunteer training just wrapped up and soon even more volunteers will be working with children from another four to seven sites.
Children’s Reading Partners also took its annual Holiday Book Drive 100% virtual, in partnership with the Rotary Club of West Hartford and The Miale Team at Keller Williams. This year’s drive raised $6,127 – more than $1,000 over goal! – to purchase new books for participating children.
“It was an honor to continue the book drive for our seventh consecutive year,” said Bennett Forrest of The Miale Team, who chaired the drive. “Our all-virtual approach gave us the opportunity to buy books wholesale and allowed us the flexibility to distribute books strategically — based on the needs of the individual schools, classes, and students.”
“The outpouring and generosity of so many in our community has been overwhelming — in the best sense of the word,” added Children’s Reading Partners program coordinator Ronni Breiter. “The funds raised will enable CRP to gift a new book to every child who participates in the mentoring program and to classrooms at all of our partner schools.”