Read With Me


The challenge: If a child is not reading at grade level by the third grade, that child will not finish high school.

Disadvantaged children are the most at risk for not acquiring the ability to read by that crucially important time: third grade.

Dropouts not only fail to succeed in society, they are more likely to get into trouble and may even spend time in prison.

Some of these children come from homes where no English is spoken, adding to the challenge for both students and teachers.

A proven solution: The Read With Me Volunteer Program

In 2004, Roberta and Clay Klein became aware of the problem facing the disadvantaged children and started what is now the Read With Me Volunteer Program. Working with schools, churches, and community leaders, they recruited volunteers to be English-speaking role models, tutors, and mentors. They started sending volunteers to the most challenged school in the district.

After just one year, the school principal could see the difference. She noticed major changes in the children who were helped in the program. Teachers were revitalized because the volunteers were interested in helping them.


According to Coachella Valley Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Darryl Adams, “The evidence is overwhelming and clear that the program works as the data speaks to the improvement in students’ reading comprehension and standardized test scores. Even more convincing is the bond created between the volunteers and the students.”

The challenge: We now know that if a child is not reading at grade level by the third grade, that child will not finish high school.

An ingenious solution: Read With Me brings together our most underutilized asset — educated senior citizens, to inspire and help our most underdeveloped asset — children from disadvantaged homes. The results?

What principals say: “I was truly not prepared for just how much of a positive impact this program could have on a school– site.” – Principal Mike Williams, Las Palmitas Elementary School

What teachers say: “The volunteers are of great value to my students because their mentoring nature affects each child’s developmental growth, self-esteem, and foundational skills needed to become highly successful individuals.” – Maria Sauter, Implementation Specialist, Incline Village, Nevada

What volunteers say: “As a “newbie” volunteer, I honestly came with no real expectations. Having now completed five years of wild and wonderful experiences, it is I who have been continually amazed at the wonder of these young learners.” – Elaine H. Schleisman, Mecca Elementary School volunteer

This book is your guide with everything you need to start a Read With Me Volunteer Program:

~ Introducing the program to the school district ~ Working with teachers and school staff ~ Recruiting capable volunteers ~ Volunteer orientation ~ ~ Tutoring protocol ~ And much more, including forms, samples, and what to expect along the way.

About Roberta E. Klein


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