BUILDING A BOND THROUGH LITERACY
Starting first grade can be scary for any child, especially for one who just moved to Fort Lauderdale all the way from China. Rose barely spoke any English and struggled with her reading and writing. To help her Rose’s teachers paired her with Clara, a ReadingPals volunteer.
Clara would visit Rose every Wednesday, they would practice reading aloud, played interactive games and became fast friends. One day as they were reading Rose turned to Clara and said that a few kids in her class were picking on her because she was Chinese and had an accent.
Born in Venezuela, Clara explained to Rose that she was also picked on by her classmates as a little girl because she too had an accent. She said she wanted to be sad, but instead focused on the amazing things that came along with her culture – great music, food and her family! This brought a huge smile on Rose’s face and she realized that being different is a good thing.
A year later Clara and Rose were once again paired together. Her teachers saw a dramatic improvement each week with her reading and writing. Rose even explained she would go home and help her mom learn how to read English the same way she did.
Thanks to United Way’s generous donors, the ReadingPals initiative is offered in more than 21 educational sites in Broward County.