News Release – September 9, 2014

For Immediate Release
Publicity Contact: Wendy Brickman
(831) 633-4444 or Brickman@BrickmanMarketing.com.

Read to Me Project™ Goes Back to School to Help Improve Thousands of Lives in Monterey County and Doubles Its Impact to 800 Students Reading to 1,000 Siblings

September 9, 2014. Carmel, CA. September is National Literacy Month and the Read to Me Project™ has gone “Back to School” to continue expanding and implementing their program and passionate vision of every child entering kindergarten prepared to learn and succeed.

Alarmingly, nearly 80% of children in Monterey County arrive at kindergarten not fully unprepared for school according to First 5 of Monterey County, and most will never catch up. The Read to Me Project is dedicated to increasing the number of students who are successful in school and ultimately graduate high school with a lifetime of literacy and opportunity. These improved outcomes will create a positive impact on the socio-economic aspects of the community, including crime reduction.

Beginning in September, Read to Me Project staff and volunteers will be training and motivating hundreds of 4th, 5th and 6th graders in 80 classrooms, doubling the number of classrooms impacted from last year. This translates to over 800 students reading to over 1,000 brothers and sisters who have not yet started school. These students, located in schools in Salinas, Greenfield, Gonzales, and Carmel will be taught and motivated to read to their younger brothers and sisters, ages 8 months to 5 years, in their homes at least one hundred times during the school year.

What is the Read to Me Project?

The Read to Me Project is an innovative early literacy program that is simple, direct, and powerful, reaching children not accessed by other support programs. It acknowledges the findings that 85% of brain development occurs during the first five years of life and that early engagement and enrichment stimulate brain development.

Founded in 2011, the Read to Me Project was started by Barbara Greenway, a Speech and Language Specialist with 18 years of experience in the Alisal Union School District who understands the needs of local children and the community.

The Read to Me Project takes place in the home, where children learn best. It is simple, accessible, low cost, and child-led – sibling-to-sibling. It builds nurturing family relationships and provides literacy enrichment to children as young as 8 months old. The read-aloud sessions also build stronger family relationships and increase the self-esteem and the language skills of the readers.

The Read to Me Project is primarily focused on young children from low income, high-density neighborhoods. The children currently participating in the Read to Me Project live in predominantly Hispanic communities in East Salinas and South Monterey County and are often English language learners. The program has expanded this year adding new schools in Gonzales Unified, Alisal Union and Carmel Unified School District, as well. The Read to Me Project has been the recipient of several local book drives with over 2,000 age-appropriate books donated to date.

According to Barbara Greenway, founder and Executive Director of The Read to Me Project, “Reading to young children is an easy and effective way to build language, vocabulary and knowledge. Today there are an estimated 25,000 children in Monterey County age 5 and under who are at risk of entering kindergarten unprepared. Research shows that most of these children will not catch up. The time is now to do everything we can to reach these children and change their future and the future of Monterey County. We can’t afford to wait for children to fail.”

How does the Read to Me Project Work?

School training sessions for students and teachers will include presentations about early brain development, how children learn, and the “Nine Best Ways to Read to Young Children.” Teachers will be provided with simple instructions for implementing this program in their classrooms with periodic check-ins and coaching sessions throughout the school year by Read to Me Project coordinators. Once trained, students will check out books weekly from the Read to Me Lending Library to take home to read aloud to their young sisters and brothers as part of their ungraded nightly homework. During the holiday season, the student participants will give the “gift of reading” by choosing and wrapping a new book to give to their young sibling.

How is the Read to Me Project Unique?

The Read to Me Project is different from other literacy programs. It can reach thousands of children easily and cost-effectively. It empowers school-age emerging readers to bring literacy home to their families, one child and one book at a time. It increases engagement within the family and between siblings. It’s simple, accessible, and low cost!

The Read to Project is an innovative program that can easily be replicated in every low-income community across the county, state, and country. It has the capacity to change hundreds of thousands of lives by bringing books and literacy into the homes of young children.

To continue its expansion and underwrite the costs of the program, it is currently seeking grants, program fees from schools, donations from members of the community, and corporate “adopt a school” sponsorships. The Read to Me Project is currently under the fiscal sponsorship of the ACTION Council of Monterey County (federal tax ID 77-0357101). It has received its incorporation and has filed for its own 501(c)3 non-profit status which will enable the Read to Me Project to expand the organization and serve more children.

For more information, go to http://www.readtomeproject.org, email barbara@readtomeproject.org or call (831) 275-1300. To schedule an interview with Barbara Greenway or attend a school presentation, please call Wendy Brickman at (831) 633-4444 or email Brickman@BrickmanMarketing.com

Q: Who benefits from the Read to Me Project?

  • Children 8 months to 5 years will acquire kindergarten readiness skills.
  • Older siblings age 9-12 may improve reading fluency and develop positive family bonds with siblings.
  • Families will have children who are likely to grow up to be literate and successful adults and parents.
  • Classroom teachers will teach students who are ready to learn and excited about reading
  • Communities and businesses will benefit socially and economically from a literate population.

Q: How is the Read to Me Project different from other one-on-one reading programs?
A: The Read to Me Project empowers an army of elementary-age volunteers to help bring literacy to the youngest members of the family. It takes place in the home, where children learn best. It is simple, accessible, low cost, and child led – sibling-to-sibling. It builds nurturing family relationships, and provides literacy enrichment to children as young as 8 months old.

Q: What kind of books do the children take home to read?
A: The Read to Me Project Lending Libraries contain books that are selected for each age of early development: baby, 2 yr old, 3 yrs old, and preschool. The books are very carefully selected for readability by an emerging-literate child. Most books do not exceed a 2nd grade reading level. Where possible, multi-lingual books are included in Spanish speaking communities.

Q: Does the Read to Me Project involve the parents in the Home?
A: The Read to Me Project is focused on the children in the home helping each other. Where possible, the Project partners with the schools and other community organizations, which specifically focus on parent literacy and parenting skills.