As part of March is Reading Month, United Way partnered with Carpenter Street School to offer a fun and impactful reading event for all second graders at the school. Nearly 50 members of United Way’s Young Leaders United and Student United Way spent their lunch hour working one-on-one to encourage and inspire these young learners.

Members of Young Leaders United are committed to helping impact the most pressing issues in our community. They recently learned that 35% of 3rd grade students at Carpenter Elementary are not yet reading at the proficient level.

“Research shows that the ability to read by the end of third grade is essential for student success both in school and beyond,” shared Jeff Lauer, Principal at Carpenter Street School. “We are grateful to United Way and their volunteers for supporting our efforts in reading.”

Each volunteer and child spent time reading the book, “Thank You, Mr. Falker.” Written by Michigan author Patricia Polacco, the story features Little Trisha, who is overjoyed at the thought of learning how to read, but struggles when she finds that all of the letters and numbers get jumbled up.”

“This heartwarming story illustrates how each of us can impact the life of a struggling reader,” shared Mellisa Snelling, a member of Young Leaders United. “It was a great reminder of how important it is to invest time with these children to help build their confidence and skills.”

As a special surprise, each student was able to take their new book home. The purchase of 50 books was made possible through a generous grant through the Midland Area Community Foundation. A free pizza lunch was also possible because of the generosity of Dominos Pizza.

Big Brothers Big Sisters joined the event to educate volunteers about the impact of spending one-on-one time with children and shared ongoing volunteer opportunities in their Lunchbox Learners program.

“The Lunchbox Learners Program is an easy way to help a child with their reading skills and also develop a friendship that will make a difference in both of your lives,” shared Susan Putnam, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

March is Reading Month is a great reminder of importance of developing reading skills each and every day.

“It takes a village to reinforce the importance of reading,” shared Jeff Lauer. “This extra reading time provides additional practice, but also reinforces the importance of reading from someone other than their teacher that they see every day.