The Reading Connection (TRC) was founded in 1989 by a group of educators as a service project of the Greater Washington Reading Council. Volunteers first began reading with children in a small emergency shelter located in Arlington, Virginia. This program eventually blossomed into TRC's Read-Aloud program. TRC incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1992 and now reaches 12 shelters and transitional housing sites in Arlington, Alexandria, and Washington, D.C. The Reading Connection also provides literacy advocates trainings, reading families workshops, and the Book Club to over 10 partner agencies.
For twenty years "the Reading Connection has been reading with kids who have no one else to read to them and giving books to kids who had none." Research has shown that reading aloud to children "is the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading." (from Becoming a Nation of Readers, 1985)
TRC has a mission to improve the lives of at-risk children and families by helping them create and sustain literacy-rich environments and motivation for reading, and it accomplishes its mission through four different programs:
1. The Read-Aloud Program - In the Read Aloud Program, volunteers read great books selected to support a theme like "onomatopoeia, or superheroes or cats and dogs." The kids and adults then talk about the book and work on an activity related to the book's theme. Then the best part comes - each week, the kids pick a book for their own.
|A typical TRC Read-Aloud event with lots of eager listeners!|
2. The Book Club - The Book Club encourages families to read by sending new, age-appropriate books through the mail to clients of partner social service agencies. Clients chose the books they prefer from age-appropriate, language and culturally-appropriate selections. To these clients, books for their children are a luxury. Each book comes with tips for talking about the book after parents have read it with their child. The Book Club sends 800 children 4,100 books per year.
3. Reading Families Workshops - TRC holds workshops conducted in English and Spanish where moms and dads sit with their children as books are read to them. The parents get to share the experience of hearing a new story and seeing all the illustrations. After the reading, each family receives a copy of
the book they've just heard, and three others to add to their home library.
|Parents and children at a Reading Families Workshop.|
4. Literacy Advocates Trainings - During these training sessions, TRC introduces the staff of partner social service agencies to the importance of reading aloud. The trainers demonstrate how the staff can model better reading habits during home visits and how the staff can further develop their literacy programs.
Over the years, TRC's reach has grown to over 1,300 kids who receive 9,000 new books each year. TRC has a professional staff of only five, and they can only accomplish their mission with the help of 180 volunteers and the donations it receives from various individuals and businesses. In 2011, it received $16,000 in individual donations, surpassing its goal of $15,000. As part of its ongoing effort to aid Alexandria's disadvantaged families and children, the runningbrooke fund contributes annually to the Reading Connection.
|Brooke presenting a check to Courtney Kissell, Executive Director of TRC|