Dr. Marilyn Nye founded the Read-Aloud Volunteer Program in 1995.
Dr. Nye was a professor of teacher education for over 25 years at what is now California State University, East Bay. She had taught elementary school in Albany for six years before beginning her career in higher education. Her specialty was international children’s literature.
For her expertise and devotion to literacy, Dr. Nye received the “Distinguished Citizen Award” from the West Contra Costa Public Education Fund in 1998. She was also an active member and served as president for the local chapters of both the Delta Kappa Gamma Society and the Education Alumni Association of UC Berkeley.
The Read-Aloud Volunteer Program began as a pilot program at Downer Elementary School in 1995, with just three readers. The following year, 1996-97, Read-Aloud had thirty-five readers at Downer. Chavez joined Downer in 1997-98, increasing the number of volunteers to one hundred and twenty who read to children in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
Read-Aloud also received its non-profit status in 1997, and continues to support schools in the district.
A major contributor to the start-up of the non-profit was Marilyn’s good friend Kay Davis. Frank and Kay Davis generously gave the seed money to make Read-Aloud a success. Since those early beginnings, Read-Aloud has been supported through personal contributions, from our readers and friends of the program, grants and small contracts. We continue to build on this and expand our program offerings.
Marilyn Nye patterned Read-Aloud after SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) an Oregon statewide program that in 2014 won the Library of Congress award for its outstanding work increasing literacy in the state.
Dedicated volunteers continue to support the children by providing reading opportunities, and one-on-one time together.
Every two weeks, each child selects a book to keep and share with friends and family. At the end of the school year, children have their own home library.
Since 1995, six additional schools have been added to the program. The current schools in the program are Coronado, Dover, Downer, Montalvin Manor, and Washington Elementary, all are located in San Pablo and Richmond, California (two of the schools are no longer in the program). We continue to increase both the number of volunteers working in the schools and the children we serve.
Each year, our coordinators and volunteers contribute over 4,000 reading hours. In addition, over 4,000 gift books are presented to students for their home libraries and summer reading. Read-Aloud also donates books to preschool programs located at our school sites. Over the last 20 years, Read-Aloud has given < 75,000 books to our children and the community.