Love to Read, Read for Life – United Way Success in Education


School Age Reading

Instilling the love of literacy to children is the foremost goal of a collaborative effort between the Oshkosh Boys & Girls Club, The Winnebago County Literacy Council and the Oshkosh Area United Way.
The Literacy Council and the Boys and Girls Club have implemented creative programs, considered best practices for children age six to 18, funded in part by the Oshkosh Area United Way. All under the umbrella called the Reader’s Café, the program includes: Reader’s Theater, Choral Reading, One on One tutoring and High School Book Club.
In the Reader’s Theater, aimed at younger children, each child is paired with a specific “part” of a play. Reader’s Theater is a favorite for Lily, an energetic, third grader who is about to participate in her fifth Reader’s Theater. Most recently she, along with a number of other children, performed “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” a Dr. Seuss favorite. After weeks of practice, mentors, parents, Boys & Girls Club members and staff, tutors and staff from the Literacy Council are all invited for the final performance. While Lilly loves the performance, she confesses it is the “cast” party afterward that she really enjoys. The next performance for Reader’s Theater is “The Emperor’s New Clothes” set for August 21 in the Webster Stanley Auditorium from 1 – 3 pm. Lily, along with the other children in Reader’s Theater have started practicing their parts.
Sara Eliasen, Director of Academic Success for the Boys and Girls Club, shares this about Lily’s progress, “When I compare Lily’s fluency, comprehension and confidence from early spring, when we began our Reader’s Theater practices for our performance in April, and now, as we practice for our August performance, I am just amazed at the progress. She is becoming a rock star reader, and the best part is that she truly seems to enjoy choral reading. Whereas in the past, she was a somewhat reluctant reader, coaxing is no longer necessary!”
Another program is Choral Reading. Much like a choir, children all read the same story together. Choral Reading allows the children to rely on the sound of each other’s voices if they themselves get stuck on a word or phrase. The power lies in the group. The goal with each program is for the kids to have a better relationship with the printed word. In addition, Reader’s Café aims to help students avoid the summer slide in their literacy skills.
The Reader’s Theater and Choral Reading programs encourage the children to read to themselves quietly for 20 minutes. Initially, the kids resisted, and staff never thought they would hit the 20-minute mark, but now it is routine, and gives the kids a chance for some quiet time during an otherwise robustly busy day at the club.
There are two programs for older students: One-on-One tutoring provided by the Literacy Council and Book Clubs. For tutoring, students are often identified by Carlea, the Boys & Girls Club mentor coordinator, who, with the help of the students’ mentors, will encourage students to participate. Julia Frascona, the Education Coordinator for the Literacy Council, works to engage young minds in challenging questions as books are discussed in one of the high school book clubs. The books they read are thought provoking and intended to spark conversation. Discussing the books in a group is a safe place for the teens to express themselves.
Your donation to United Way is the Difference you Make to young children and teenagers working to improve their literacy skills.

Reading to Tots

On the other end of the spectrum are book giveaways to very young children by the Oshkosh Area United Way routinely at The Farmer’s Market as well as book distribution through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. When children age birth to five are enrolled, they will receive a free book every month until their fifth birthday. Time spent reading to children opens their minds to faraway place, exciting adventures and sets them on a path to an interest and love of reading and lifelong learning. Reading to a child is a wise investment in their future and the future of our community.
Very simply the Imagination Library is an initiative to put books in the hands of preschoolers and open their worlds to amazing possibilities. Since 2012 through the United Way, over 150,000 books have been given to children in the Oshkosh area.
That’s a lot of reading!
Your donation to the Oshkosh Area United Way ensures all the children of Oshkosh, no matter their age, are given the opportunity to develop a love of reading and fluent literacy skills. It is the Difference You Make when you donate to the Oshkosh Area United Way.


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