BookPALS is an innovative program used by the Children’s Literacy Network (CLN) to bring students together around reading with a customized buddy learning model--similar to the Pen Pals of years past. Students connect through virtual reading groups with kids who live in different cities or rural communities all over Michigan. The past few years, CLN has been focused on diversity and talking about differences with our students. Currently nine reading groups, mentored by teachers, meet weekly with designated books and reading exercises.
The program, sponsored by DFCU Financial through the CLN, increases reading practice time, facilitates relationship building and essential social and emotional skill development, all while building bridges between communities who are side by side, together but not equal. This is where the magic will happen. As evidenced by current student testing scores and F & P reading levels, this program has demonstrated time and again that students can and do increase their reading levels and literacy skills through weekly participation.
By bringing various schools together from around our state, students connect with students from other schools and districts. Materials focus on diversity and inclusion and encourage students to celebrate differences and share similarities.
From a teacher at Anchor and Beacon Elementary Schools:
Here at Anchor and Beacon, our students will benefit from the connections and the opportunity to work with another school in our state. Everyone will be working towards the same goals – generating excitement around reading, building social and emotional skill development, and building a bridge between communities.
From a teacher at Detroit Leadership Academy:
Many of our students are reading below grade level and some unfortunately find reading to be a chore. BookPALS has made reading enjoyable for all students that participate, no matter their reading level. We know that time spent reading is never wasted and while they read high-quality, just-right books with their pals during BookPALS, they are being exposed to a different type of reading than what they are getting in school. They are reading for enjoyment and connection. We know that engaging and enjoying reading are keys to creating skilled readers so we are so grateful for BookPALS, their method, process and values.
This has been a trying year for our students and their families. While our students are spending more time than ever in front of screens it makes getting high quality books from BookPALS each session that much more special. They are excited to share and excited to be a part of the program!
From a grateful parent:
My son loves BookPALS! He is always so excited to get on his meeting and read with the kids. He also has really enjoyed the books themselves! He finished his book this session before the first meeting and couldn’t wait to read it with his friends. Finding ways to socialize during COVID has proven difficult – but being able to couple socialization with reading has been great. His reading skill and comprehension have both increased, and we look forward to each new book and each BookPALS meeting!
“Thanks so very much to DFCU for this year's donation - we are so proud and honored to partner with you, especially with this impactful program centered around literacy,” said Betsy Durant, Executive Director, CLN.