Column by Nancy Vaughan: Reading to young people is a good remedy | Columns

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When I turned on the radio one recent morning, I was greeted by the voice of this adorable furry monster Grover reading “The Monster at the End of This Book”.

The report was about how kids love this book because it directly involves them. (“Don’t turn the page!” And on the next page: “You’ve turned the page!”) If you’ve never read this book to a young child, you’ve missed one of life’s great joys .

I was a lucky kid who had a mother who loved to read and had time to devote to reading for me and my siblings. As a mom and a grandmother, I carried on the tradition because it was such a wonderful experience; however, my career at Centraide has taught me that this is not the experience of many children.

It is not a condemnation of the parents. Today’s world places great demands on young families, and distractions are more abundant than ever. It’s easy to think that video games and TV shows can replicate the educational value of books, but that’s just not true. Letters and numbers hovering over a screen, while fun and useful, cannot fully teach a child to read, understand, or think critically about the use of language to describe our external and internal worlds.

United Way and other groups have worked hard to provide children with many opportunities to discover the love of reading. Local libraries offer many opportunities to engage in reading throughout the year. Dolly Parton’s Imagine Library is offered in Madison County and supported by United Way in Delaware, Henry and Randolph counties. Heart of Indiana United Way provides preschool education books and tools to successful child care providers and families through Born Learning, Summer Reading, and other outreach activities.

Anderson Rotary launched Little Free Libraries at six locations last year, and the club has purchased enough books to properly stock the locations. Rotarians also read video books (https://rotary.andersonrotary.org/discover-the-world-of-rotary/projects/little-free-library-videos) because another essential part of early learning is active engagement of adult readers.

Books can be left unread if there is no one to engage the children. Volunteer opportunities give those who do not have children nearby a chance to share their love of reading with others. It also lets children know that there are people in their community who care about them and their success.

In Madison County, Pre-K Pals work with classroom teachers to help students read and other activities that improve social and language skills.

In Delaware County, Read United strives to instill a love of reading through one-to-one tutoring, pairing volunteers with third-graders who struggle to read at school level. Both programs have been affected by distance learning, but get back on track this fall.

We would love to expand these opportunities. We just need you and others like you to share your time and love of reading. To learn more, log on to https://heartofindianaunitedway.org/volunteer/. It’s another great way to give heart.

Nancy Vaughan is COO of Heart of Indiana United Way. She can be contacted at [email protected] or

765-608-3061.


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