United Way of Wyoming Valley keeps annual reading tradition alive despite pandemic

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — It’s Read Across America Week which often features community members visiting local elementary schools to read a book.

Although the pandemic has prevented guest readers from visiting classrooms, a local organization improvised to still make the reading possible.

It’s a United Way of Wyoming Valley United to Read event unlike any other.

“It’s a great way to engage schools and the community in a safe, but fun way,” United Way of Wyoming Valley VP of Community Impact Jennifer Deemer said.

Instead of guest community readers visiting more than 150 Wilkes-Barre area classrooms, 14 volunteers recorded themselves reading children’s books and posted those videos to a United Way online page. United to Read has always proven popular, but it may be more important than ever because of the pandemic.

“Children have been out of school for so long but we don’t want to lose the opportunity to continue to raise the importance of reading and its effect on children’s education,” Deemer said.

“It’s sparking an interest in kids’ learning abilities and seeing people from the community read to them sort of like mini-mentors in a way,” PAK Pediatrics pediatrician Dr. Jeffery Kile said.

Kile is among the virtual volunteer readers. He emphasizes just how important developing a passion for reading can be. The younger the better.

“Physically it helps connect neurons in the brain and also teaches them a lot of life skills and hopefully a love for learning and an interest in education,” Dr. Kile said.

Sparking a love of reading, even if that reading is happening virtually. While United to Read is a way to encourage reading in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, the virtual reading can be enjoyed by anyone.

To learn more, visit unitedwaywb.org.

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