UJF's Reading Partners Launches Book Pals Program

Marian Freed and Nan Gordon are excited to team up with United Jewish Federation’s Herbert and Sarah M. Gibor Reading Partners program to chair the new “Book Pals” initiative. 

The program will launch at the Creative Learning @FPC afterschool program run by Joanie Merrell. Selected students (grades 3-5) will be paired with adult volunteers who have been screened and interviewed by Reading Partners and Book Pals Chairs. 
The child will receive a free book of their own each month from their volunteer pal. The books will be tailored to the child’s reading level and personal interests. Along with the book, the child will receive a letter from the volunteer. The student will read the book and then write a letter back to their pal. The children can discuss the book in the letter and what else they might be interested in reading. The volunteer will then reply with another letter and another book! This will continue throughout the school year, with an additional three books sent to the child at the start of the summer. 
“I’ve participated in a similar program for fifteen years. It’s meaningful for both the child and volunteer. At the end of the school year each child has 12 books, the start of their own library," said Marian Freed.
"They develop a relationship with the volunteer through the letters which is beneficial to both. Some of these children participate in the program for a few years with the same volunteer which is very special.” 
With children still making up lost learning from the pandemic, this program comes at a very opportune time. It is an excellent additional resource to help students improve their reading and literacy skills. The program will begin at one location this year with plans to expand in the near future. 
“As a former School Psychologist in the Stamford Public Schools, I know firsthand how many of our students would benefit from having books relating to their personal interests in their homes," said Nan Gordon. 
"There is always a look of disappointment in kids’ faces when they don’t have the money to buy books at the school’s annual book fairs. The addition of a letter writing component between the volunteer and child will create a connection with a special adult as well as foster writing skills." 
Please contact Lenore Fogel at lenore@ ujf.org to learn more about Reading Partners and the Book Pal program.
This article appears in the September Issue of The New Jewish Voice newspaper. To receive The New Jewish Voice delivered free to your home, sign-up today at www.ujf.org.