Pen pal program encourages reading in children

FORT MYERS, Fla. --- - The Early Learning Coalition is recruiting volunteers for the Literacy Buddy Program. The program helps children build their own home library by partnering them with an adult. The students send letters to their adult buddies who then send books back. The program is already in place at school across Southwest Florida including Lee and Charlotte County. 

“I have all of the letters my buddies have sent me in four years. I just keep them as treasures. They're my treasures”, Donna Shehr told 4 In Your Corner. 

Shehr has been involved with the program for the past four years. She told Fox 4 the bond she developed with her buddy went well beyond the classroom. 

“I buy books and I come in and do readings with my buddy”, she said.  

She also told 4 In Your Corner that she was able to see her buddy's language skills develop as they continued to correspond. Normally a buddy would only send three books to a child. Shehr said says she would often send more to encourage her students to continue reading. 

“By the end, you're seeing them write their names or some small words, sentences sometimes.”

The program runs throughout the school year. The program's early learning literacy advisor, Barbara Rodriguez, says the opportunity to share the interaction with the children benefits the volunteers as well. She told 4 In Your Corner, volunteers allow the program to grow. 

“We are very grateful of their commitment and their love. Without them, this is not possible.”

More information about the literacy buddies program can be found here.

 

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