The importance of reading for elementary school students is a critical bridge to success in school, work and life.
“Are there any books we can read?”
“Can I have a book to read?”
“I really want to read, do you have any books?”
The local students in the Logan Recreation Center’s Afterschool Adventure program in Santa Ana were yearning to read, asking for books nearly every day. And after countless questions from students, the program leaders decided something needed to be done to nurture this excitement for reading and learning.
When Orange County United Way heard about the need at the Logan Recreation Center, they did not hesitate and donated boxes of books – in total more than 250 books for the students to use, share and soak up.
The Logan Recreation Center’s Afterschool Adventure offers a safe haven for Santa Ana neighborhood youth between the ages of kindergarten through 5th grades. Children participate in engaging experiences to help them learn academic, social and professional skills. The program also provides homework assistance. Children in the afterschool program are more likely to come to school and stay in school, more likely to hand in their work on time and get better grades.
The positive and healthy learning environment assigns every student mandatory reading for homework. Because the Logan Recreation Center didn’t have books, students persistently asked program leaders, including Sole Contreras, if there was a way to supply a student library.
That dream became a reality when Contreras worked directly with Orange County United Way’s Early Grade Reading Project Coordinator, Daisy Benitez. Determined to give the children early access to books and encourage their love of reading, Benitez secured and delivered the 250 books to the center.
Students have taken select books home, and the remaining paperback books will be part of a lending library starting at the Center.
United Way’s contribution not only gives children books to challenge themselves and read at or above their grade level, but also helps them realize how beneficial reading is for their overall education.
In response to the generous donation, the Logan Recreation Center Afterschool Adventures Program has kicked off Read Aloud 15 Minutes, an Orange County United Way initiative encouraging parents to read aloud to their kids 15 minutes every day from birth to age five. Such a practice helps children engage in stories, talk, learn and expand their view of the world.
The partnership with the Logan Recreation Center aligns with United Way’s work to ensure children are reading proficiently by third grade. United Way’s OC Reads, a collaborative approach to teaching kids to read early, brings together more than 100 partners – ranging from schools and pediatric offices to libraries and after-school programs, to help young children learn to read at a critical early age.
In part because of the 250 reading books now housed at the Logan Recreation Center’s Afterschool Adventures Program, enrollment has reached maximum capacity.
Lisa Rudloff, City of Santa Ana executive director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services Agency, expressed her thanks to Orange County United Way, stating that the contribution provides the perfect blend of recreation and educational fun.
“With the addition of new books,” Rudloff said, “[Logan Recreation Center] program participants are taking full advantage of program services and enjoy being able to access a fresh book from the cozy reading corner.”
Orange County United Way is helping prepare our next generation to live happy, healthy, productive lives through early grade reading and literacy programs. The importance of reading for elementary school students is a critical bridge to success in school, work and life. When children read better, they imagine more richly, develop more vocabulary and engage in critical thinking—skills that lead to college and career, and the building blocks for a good quality of life. Will you do more to help Orange County children enjoy reading? Learn more about OC Reads.