This new and stimulating Outreach program is an innovative idea focusing on another means to further our mission as Pen Women. The truly thrilling part about this program is that an individual member can do it herself as an entity of one. It doesn’t require several members of a Branch.

“Calling all Members-At-Large.” This concept is certainly not limited to Members-At-Large, but it is a distinct possibility for your involvement in your community. Pen Women, whether part of a Branch or a party of one representing Pen Women in your region of the country, can “make a difference” in young people’s lives.

The program is simple: Just listen to a child read.

You go to a local elementary school and volunteer to make periodic visits to listen to an elementary student read. This program has been instituted in various forms in some cities, and often involves dogs being brought to schools or libraries to serve as “listeners” as children read to them. A similar on-going program in the Nation’s Capital engages military service members who volunteer to listen to children reading in a one-on-one environment.

Step One:

Determine an elementary school in your community and approach either the District Superintendent or the Principal of that school. Ask if the school is interested, and how you get cleared to do such a program.

Each school system has different requirements, but most require finger printing and a simple background check to ensure your clearance to work with students. It is generally not difficult, but takes a short period of time.

Step Two:

You will have already explained your desire to provide this opportunity, but after you have been cleared, ask for a recommendation of a teacher and class that may need this extra assistance.

The teacher and the school principal will determine where you would be able to perform this service, and then set up a mutually agreeable schedule whereby you arrive and just sit and let the student read to you. You don’t provide the reading material; the teacher will provide the child with something at his or her appropriate reading level.

It is really as easy as that. 

Experience has shown that young students enjoy reading to an adult, and the adult not only listens, but is able to help with any words that may be causing a struggle for the reader.  Often the students want to discuss the story, and they may get chatty, which is fine.

The most important aspect of this activity is that the kids are getting practice reading aloud, and developing confidence in reading and talking to adults, learning manners and developing positive associations with reading.

Through this effort, you are shining a positive light for Pen Women in the community,

fulfilling a mission of Pen Women, and probably, most importantly, helping a child read more fluently and confidently, quite possibly one of the most essential elements in education.