Partnering with Local Schools to Empower Students to Love Reading

Latasha, 7 years old, says, “I’d like to live in some other world.” Learning to read invites children to see through windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors (Sims Bishop, 1990). Penn Reading Initiative (PRI) is a student-run organization supported by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships’ University-Assisted Community Schools (UACS) program. It was developed through a partnership between the Netter Center and the Penn Linguistics Lab. Using a 1:1 tutoring-based partnership model, the program is designed to link Penn undergraduate and graduate students with students from elementary schools in West Philadelphia. Penn tutors are carefully trained to mentor and support students in grades two and three, working to improve their reading skills and cultivate their passion for learning through a research-based curriculum with a track record of success. PRI uses The Reading Road curriculum in conjunction with classroom learning activities to enhance students’ reading experiences and excitement for in-depth phonetics understanding and reading comprehension.

Students begin their journey on PRI’s THE READING ROAD, a research-based literacy curriculum that carries the reader from “cat” to “astronomically,” from reading words one at a time to figuring out why people make the choices that they do. Tutors working with PRI learn things about the alphabet they never knew before, and get the satisfaction of turning “I hate to read!” into “I love reading!”