March is National Reading Month, which is recognized each year as a time to motivate Americans of all ages to read every day. Reading is a fundamental component of education and continued learning.
“At YouthQuest, we ensure that we are supporting students’ literacy needs through specific programming,” says Willie Buford, associate program director of YouthQuest for Flint & Genesee Education & Talent. “With this in mind, last year we implemented leveled readers at each of our sites to ensure our student’s literacy skills are growing.”
The YouthQuest Leveled Library is meant to bridge the divide between literacy initiatives to include books of every reading level, grades kindergarten through eighth. The books in the libraries are matched to readers and are ideal for both guided and independent reading at various levels.
With a grant received from the AT&T Foundation, YouthQuest was able to purchase books for the YouthQuest Leveled Libraries at each site so that students have access to books at their reading levels.
Having interventions like this is especially important at YouthQuest sites because data shows that only 6.9% of students in the Flint Community School district are proficient at 3rd Grade Content in English Language Arts (ELA) according to the M-STEP (Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress).
With this data, there is a demonstrable need for these kinds of programs in afterschool.
“In out-of-school time, we aim to extend and build upon the lessons of day school,” says Buford. “We are all working toward the same goal of helping make Flint students successful.”
For students in YouthQuest, activities and clubs help guide students through exercises aimed to boost literacy. Clubs like the Storyteller’s Club help students build their own storylines using grade-specific sight words based on the Dolch Sight Words list. Dolch Sight Words are the most used in education, developed by educator Dr. Edward William Dolch in the 1930s-40s.
Through these programs and initiatives, YouthQuest is working to make sure that students at the site in which they serve and becoming better prepared for their future with the skill and a love for reading.
YouthQuest is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.