“When you sell a man a book, you don’t sell him just 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life.”

-Christopher Morley

Become a Reader, Click Here


Tips for Readers

Recently a teacher suggested the following reading format/outline as help to the volunteers in her room.  Consider trying it with your student!

1. Talk about the pictures in the book
2. Scan for obscure vocabulary to preview (ex. ‘machine’ in a book about a farm)
3. Read together
4. Discuss the book– interesting things you learned from the book, if you liked the book, if you would read it again or recommend it to a friend?

*More Tips for Readers here

Categories: Blog, Readers, Volunteers


This is our 5th year serving the first and second grade students at Wendell Phillips Elementary (KCPS).  We often mention our goal is to be a scaffolding or support for what the teachers are already doing in the classroom.  Today I wanted to share with you what one of the newest Lead to Read Phillips teachers is doing to engage Readers with her students.  Students & Readers spend their time intentionally divided into 10 minute sections.  Science reading for 10 minutes, reading book for 10 minutes and then a free book of choice for 10 minutes.  We think this is excellent!  Non-fiction is a hard piece for teachers to engage students in, so a perfect place to get Readers – who are anticipated each week – to simply spend a few minutes reading in this content area while asking the same comprehension questions as they would in a free reading book.  Additionally, when you have 20 students and 20 Readers engaging over free reading materials in a classroom each week over the course of the semester they can exhaust all the available material quickly.  Breaking apart that time, means they are reading to learn – which we LOVE and is the whole point!  Below are two email accountings of the success the students have found in this structure with the support of the Lead to Read Readers!
Yesterday, Ms. Wooten was bubbling with excitement at her students’ science test scores.  They were all above 80%.  I believe I understood her to say that their first science test was more around 10%.  She was so happy to show us her grade book, naming off each student and their A and B grades.  Normally, Ms. Wooten is all-business about transitioning the students and volunteers immediately into reading time.  Today, she spent a few minutes celebrating her kids and us.  She asked her kids how they knew so much about the science they tested on.  She mentioned one child’s response, “Oh, my reader and I talked all about it.”  When we read with her students, Ms. Wooten has them prepared with about 4 pages of science, a specific selection from their reading books, and then their free-choice book.  Though we are reading classwork for about 2/3 of our time, we focus on the reading and sharing.  We are free to stop and talk in a way I imagine is rare in the classroom setting.
This morning, in my journaling, I considered Story Land.  Yesterday, I sat cross-legged on the floor with two second-grade girls, enjoying the story that words brought into existence between us — laughing, learning, and relating.
A story creates common ground around which we can gather.  It is not concerned with our differences or lack of mutual life experience.  In itself it provides common ground.  It provides a safe place to be together, explore differences, share knowledge, and discover mutuality.
Another note I received:
We have been reading in the science books with Ms. Wooton’s class the past couple of weeks.  She wanted to tell you how much she appreciates this because for the first time in her 30 years of teaching, her kids almost all got 80% or more correct on the science test; some got 100% correct!    She told them how well they did and one child said it was because their reader explained it to him so well.  Today we just read books for fun.  I guess helping them read the science books was worthwhile!
 I included both accounts because I think there is the potential for Readers to wonder if their time is well spent, and I think this huge success is proof that it is very much making a difference!  If you’re not already reading with Lead to Read, consider joining this effort today.

End of Semester – Giving Books

As we enter the season of Thanksgiving and near the end of the semester, we’ve gotten questions of how to engage with the schools & students in additional meaningful ways.

First, you are doing this through the time you give each week to come be a part of this incredible movement.  I, on behalf of many, want to let you know how incredibly thankful we are for each of you.  You are Lead to Read, and you ARE making a difference.  In the US, the typical middle-class child enters first grade with 1,000-1,700 hours of picture book reading time; a low-income child averages just 25 hours.*  You’re part of bridging that gap!
Secondly, we have two ways that you can further engage during this fall/holiday season.  Over the next several weeks the Classroom & Site Coordinators will be accepting monetary donations at each of the reading session.  You can also make tax deductible donations very easily online here.  These donations will go toward the purchase of a book for each of the students in the program.  On our final day of reading for the semester, each Reader will be able to give a book to their student.  These books will go home with them to read and enjoy!
Finally, we will have a box or bin set up at each school to accept book donations.  These books will be collected and donated to the school for the classroom and library use.  New or gently used books can be added to these boxes until the final session of the year.  Please note: we appreciate your thoughtfulness in only donating books that have life left in them.  Torn, tattered or worn down books should be recycled.
*Health for All Children: Revised Fourth Edition By David M B Hall, David Elliman
Categories: Blog

Additional Volunteer Opportunity!

Are you interested in speaking to a group about why you’re a Reader?  We have an immediate need for volunteers to reach out to community partnerships on behalf of Lead to Read.  The need ranges from standing at a table with materials/resources and answering basic questions for potential Readers, to speaking in front of a group and showing a Lead to Read video.  

During August-September 2015 we have the need, please email Sarah if you’re interested in helping out with these opportunities! 

Categories: Blog

Local News: 2015 Volunteers in Lead to Read program take lunch hour to share a love of reading!

This year we’ve connected with Alliance for Economic Inclusion.  “FDIC’s national initiative to establish broad-based coalitions of financial institutions, community-based organizations and other partners in several markets across the country to bring all unbanked and underserved populations into the financial mainstream.” (read more here)  As this group has grown they’ve realized that education, chiefly reading, is a critical juncture for everything.  So we, along with many other organizations in the city, have come together to have dialogue and collaborate.  At a meeting in December we connected with Lindsey Foat, Reporter for KCPT & The Hale Center for Journalism.  This spring she approached us about featuring Lead to Read as a way of spreading the word about what we’re doing.  Of course, we loved the idea!  

We are excited to watch the story being told…and shared.  Take a moment and watch the video here and then even more importantly share it with someone.  We have a big vision, a big goal….5000 kids, that means we need 5000+ Readers…you can help us get there!


Did you know…

…you can log your hours served?  Many employers have incentives for hours volunteered, or perhaps you just want them for your records, no matter the reason it’s easy to create a record of your time investment.  Log into VolunteerMark (also located in the upper right of our site).  Once there your dashboard view should have a yellow box prompting: “Log My Hours.” 

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.41.33 AM





The next screen prompts you to select “Lead to Read” as your organization nd  enter your hours next to the classroom(s) you volunteered with.  If you volunteered all year in one classroom, you served 14 hours total.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.41.54 AM








Once you’ve done that, Sarah approves each submission.  You will then be prompted with an email to print an official volunteer log of hours!

Thank you for serving with us this year, we hope to have you and two of your friends join us in the fall!  Watch for details of our Fall Kick Off/Training Event and 2015-2016 Reading Schedule.

Categories: Blog, Readers, Volunteers

Helzberg Helps + Wendell Phillips Elementary

In the spirit of Thanksgiving,  we want to give thanks to some of the incredible people that make up our organization.  This fall just after our training session at Wendell Phillips, I got an email from Reader Martha.  She said she was so excited about the program that she’d gone back to her office and told everyone about it (HOORAY!) in hopes of recruiting more Readers.  Martha works for Helzberg Diamonds.  Their charitable organization, Helzberg Helps, held a committee meeting that Martha attended and shared the Lead to Read mission.  They decided to donate some books to the school in September and as a Merry Christmas from Helzberg they would donate some Kindle e-Readers!  She worked with us to divide the book donations between the two classrooms we serve.  We then worked with the school principal, Ms. Brown to coordinate the e-Reader donations.  This week Martha & Joy (pictured below) presented the e-Readers to Ms. Brown to be donated to the library!  This allows any teacher in the building to check them out for their classroom.  They also provided giftcards so the librarian can download books that are a best fit for the students.  We are so excited to see Readers spread the word, become engaged with the schools and come to us with the ways they are thinking outside the box!     


Martha Schofield, Joy Stover (Readers) and Ms. Deloris Brown (Wendell Phillips principal)