Too many young children right here in South Jersey never have the chance to hear a bedtime story. BookMates is an interfaith literacy program that provides services to Title I elementary schools in low and moderate income communities throughout Southern New Jersey. We provide weekly one-to-one reading sessions with an adult volunteer. Many of these children that are chosen are rarely read to at home and benefit greatly from the volunteers' individualized attention. As they share the joy of reading, the volunteers also expose the children to a wide range of literature, expand their vocabulary, help improve their comprehension skills, and increase their motivation to read.
Almost 600 disadvantaged students in kindergarten through second grade benefit every year from our program. Yet it is not just the children who gain something from participating in the BookMates program. Dozens of volunteers, many of whom are retirees, return to the program year after year because it provides them with an enjoyable and satisfying opportunity to make a difference in a child's life. The communities benefit as these children grow into adults and become positive contributors in their own communities.