Read to Me promotes language, emotional literacy

Aug 22, 2021

Before the pandemic, the volunteers with Wareham Read to Me visited the Head Start program twice a month to spend thirty minutes reading aloud to a child, one-on-one. Volunteers would read to the same child each time, getting to know their interests, and developing a relationship. 

“It’s about not just developing a love of reading and books, but building a relationship with the reader,” said program volunteer Sandra Ledvina.

While the pandemic has put in-person reading on hold, Read to Me’s Ledvina and Marianne Murphy visited Head Start on August 18 to hand out tote bags full of books for every student. Bus drivers will be delivering the bags to the homes of students who couldn’t make it to the event. 

Each child was given a bag with seven or eight books about feelings, plus a feelings chart designed to be kept on the fridge. The chart features photos of children expressing emotions from “loved” and “excited” to “anger,” plus clothespins kids can put next to the feeling they are experiencing. Each feeling is named in three languages: English, Spanish, and Arabic.

One little girl, looking at the chart, pointed at the square labeled “loved” and said “I feel like this with my Mommy.”

The kits also included a children’s book that includes text in both English and Arabic, which Ledvina said is hard to find.

The feelings theme, Ledvina said, is one she and Murphy had been considering before the pandemic.
“When covid hit, it just seemed like a must-do,” Ledvina said. She explained that young children are at a prime age to learn about their feelings, how to express them, and how to deal with big feelings.

Giving children books of their own is another way to help build literacy, Ledvina said.

Murphy said her favorite book to read aloud is “Sadie and the Snowman” by Allen Morgan. Ledvina said a favorite of hers, included in the tote bags, is “The Way I Feel” by Janan Cain, which she said pairs well with Dr. Seuss’s “My Many Colored Days.”

The program is supported by the United Way of Greater New Bedford and Wareham Schools.

Head Start, which provides care and education for young children, is open for enrollment now. Call 508-927-5772 for more information.