Here’s a snapshot shared by one of the volunteers in UIDN’s Reading Together program in New Paltz. Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Each Wednesday morning since September finds Lilly, a UIDN volunteer, reading with Anna, a third grade student from the New Paltz School District. The pair meet on Zoom for half an hour or more of reading, talking, and sharing. At a recent session, the two greet each other with news of the day. They chat amicably as Anna shares that she hopes to play in the snow in the afternoon.

Lilly invites Anna to choose a story from Paw Patrol, a library book that Lilly previously dropped off for her. Anna is enthusiastic to read the book because she knows and enjoys the characters.  Each partner has a copy of the book, and they take turns reading one page at a time. Lilly acts as a coach, cheering Anna on when she approaches a difficult word or uses a good reading strategy such as breaking a word into segments. When Anna comes to a difficult word, Lilly supports her by helping her to read the word or, at times, saying the word aloud.

When asked what she would tell another student about reading with a volunteer reading partner, Anna said that she “loves reading books. It’s fun.” You can bet that both partners enjoy and benefit from their weekly sessions. Hopefully, they can continue and one day be able to read together in person.