Mary Kay Bond Is Passionate About Reading To Kids
Hillsboro, Wv – “Our mission can best be summarized in one statement” says Mary Kay Bond, Executive Director of Read Aloud West Virginia. “We seek to motivate children to want to read.”
Bond says there is a difference between teaching a child how to read and the desire to read.
“The school system is doing a relatively good job of teaching them how to break down words and improve their phonemic awareness” she says. “But what we’re trying to see is that children read beyond the school day, and for that you need someone to fall in love with reading.”
Read Aloud volunteers are required to go through a short orientation about the group. Then the volunteers are sent directly into the classroom.
“We call live commercials for reading” says Bond. “No one can understand how critical that human connection is until they seen how Read Aloud works in the classroom. How just one reader coming into a classroom can excite a child about a given author or a given type of book, and that child then seeks more of that experience.”
She says sometimes children are her best advocates, encouraging their parents to become more involved with reading. And it’s not just books; Bond says they also encourage other sources of reading material such as magazines. She has good reason to push for developing good reading skills.
“In West Virginia we have some startling statistics” she says. “I don’t like to belabor the gloom and doom, but the fact of the matter is our eighth graders currently score below eighth graders in 41 other states. And there is a gap between our males and our females in terms of reading scores. In fact, while nationally girls tend to outperform boys on reading scores, in West Virginia they outperform boys by 14 points in eighth grade, and that’s the largest gap in the nation.”
She says it’s imperative that boys are not only encouraged to read, but to read outside of the classroom as well, that it’s not just solely a female activity. Bond sees reading as a critical life skill.
“Reading is going to be called upon to improve your finances, to manage your health, and to learn a skill or a career job” she says. “You’re going to be calling upon those reading skills for a long time; you cannot ignore that. It’s a foundation of basic education.”
Bond says she’s working with Laura Young of the Pocahontas County Family Resource Network to establish a Read Aloud WV chapter here in the county. Melody Wilson is also working with the program as the volunteer coordinator at Hillsboro Elementary school.
For more information about Read Aloud, WV, please visit their website, www.readaloudwestvirginia.org.