In order for our community to remain vital throughout the years, it is crucial for us to raise a new generation of readers.

When young children learn to read, it essentially guarantees their future success in school and after. Early reading is a significant predictor of high school graduation rates, and graduating from high school is a crucial step to professional opportunities. By reading with our children when they are young, we can all help make sure that they are prepared to succeed.

The importance of early reading is especially pertinent to our community, since Utah has one of the highest birthrates in the nation (as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune in 2018) and Utah County has the youngest population in the nation. Because our population is growing so quickly, we all have the chance to make a difference in our community’s future by helping all our children read.

What a terrific opportunity and challenge! Our Utah County children deserve the very best possible support as they learn to read. But oftentimes, our classrooms are crowded, our families are big and our resources are stretched thin. That’s why is it so crucial for community members to get involved.

One group that truly exemplifies commitment to early childhood literacy is Women United of Utah County. Women United is a group of philanthropic women committed to improving the lives of women and children in Utah County. Our current initiative is to support programs that empower parents and the community to build children’s confidence, connections with others and emotional health. We do this in three ways:

  • Staffing early childhood development programs
  • Volunteering to read to, mentor and tutor young children from birth to third grade
  • Providing educational programs that empower women to contribute to their children’s reading success

In order for us to make a significant impact, our projects need your support. During this upcoming school year, we are working to help children in many local schools build their own home libraries and improve their reading skills. To do this, we need community members who are willing to donate new books to classrooms each month and who are willing to donate funds to support these sponsorships. We also need volunteers to go into the schools and read with children. These reading tutors change lives, and their influence on our young readers is truly inspiring.

There are many reasons to get involved, and there are many ways to do it. So whether you would like the hands-on experience of reading together with local children, or whether you would like to expand our capacity through financial donations, we need you! There’s no better time to start making a difference in our children’s lives.

For more information about how to use your passion for literacy to empower our children to succeed in school, please contact the book ladies at nosluffin@aol.com or stephaniea@unitedwayuc.org. Your service with Women United will give you experiences you’ll never forget.

Kay A. Smith has enjoyed 37 years in education. After retiring from the English department at Utah Valley University, where she was an associate professor, she has devoted her energy to ESL work and literacy initiatives with Women United.

For more information and resources, visit http://everydaylearners.org.