Did you know that 54% of Chicago public schools’ students do not meet or exceed reading standards? Or low-income first graders are only read to for 25 hours on average versus their peers who get 1,000 hours of one-to-one reading? The service project for MLA ’19 will benefit the nonprofit SitStayRead, whose programs use certified reading dogs and human volunteers to advance children’s literacy skills in Chicago Public Schools.
SitStayRead currently has programs designed for students enrolled in kindergarten through third grade that involve activities catered to literacy skills for each specific grade level. Each program involves both dog teams as well as human volunteers, called book buddies, who lead large and small group activities varying from reading out loud to drawing to writing poetry.
In 2013, SitStayRead partnered with Loyola University Chicago to develop an evaluation tool to measure students’ fluency and comprehension for students in the Trail Blazer’s (second grade) program. This study found that students in the SitStayRead program developed fluency at a rate of 47.8% greater than their nonparticipating peers. Making dogs an integral part of this early literacy program allows the students to practice literacy skills in a nonjudgmental setting and provides physical and mental health benefits.
There are a few different ways to donate to this organization:
- Monetary donations can be made to SitStayRead via MLANET.
- Donate books onsite at MLA ’19: Stop by the Hospitality Center located in the Grand Foyer, East Tower, Ballroom/Gold Level, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago to drop off your age-appropriate book for the SitStayRead program.
- Donate books or other items online: See SitStayRead’s Amazon Wishlist for books and other supplies that are needed for their program.
Visit SitStayRead’s website to learn more.