Teachers often select students to participate in the Read-Aloud Volunteer Program who are socially and emotionally delayed and struggle with reading and other areas of the curriculum.

Jack Shonkoff, Professor of Child Health and Development at the Harvard School of Public Health, and author of From Neurons to Neighborhoods, sums up neurobiology and reading:

There are very important cognitive underpinnings involved in reading. And there’s a significant amount of intellectual development and language development that’s necessary to master reading. But your ability to read is also very much influenced by your feelings and social development. So if a child can’t sit still, if a child is preoccupied with feelings of sadness or anxiety, or if a child can’t control his or her impulses, or is dealing with unresolved aggressive feelings, they all interfere with the ability to sit and master the skill of reading.

Sam is a Read-Aloud student at one of our elementary schools.

His teacher referred him because he had few male role models in his life and was often distracted in the classroom.

Sam and his male reader became close during the school year. The following year, he would always find his way to the library when the reader was there.

After several weeks of visits, the reader, the teacher and the coordinator agreed that Sam would attend the program again. This made him very happy.

A similar pattern happened the following year, and again he joined the program. Sam demonstrated that what he needed most from the adults around him was a caring relationship, and someone to read and listen to him.

What motivated Sam to keep returning was the relationship he formed with his reader but the outcome was a large home library of books and his newly discovered joy of reading.

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