'Readapalooza Week' underway to promote reading

Initiative works with schools to help children become better readers

"Readapalooza" events underway in Berks County

READING, Pa. - Ready. Set. READ! That's a United Way of Berks County initiative that is encouraging individuals, families and organizations to take part in what's called "Readapalooza Week."

Several events are scheduled throughout the week with the goal of promoting reading and helping children become better readers.

The Barnes & Noble store at Broadcasting Square in Spring Township will present a story time from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday. Guest readers include Andrea Chapdelaine, provost at Albright College in Reading, and Hamid Chaudhry, a community advocate and owner of local Dairy Queen and Mustang Grill restaurants.

A pair of story time events are scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday. Al Boscov will read to children in the auditorium of his East store in Exeter Township until noon; the other event is scheduled to go until 1 p.m. at the Glenside Housing Community Center in Reading.

On Thursday, everyone is encouraged to "Drop Everything and Read!" The idea, organizers said, is simple: choose a 15-minute block of time, drop what you're doing and read a book of your choice for 15 minutes. You're then invited to post a photo on the initiative's Facebook page.

Barnes & Noble will host another story time on Friday from 11 a.m. until noon. Pa. Sen. Judy Schwank and Pastor Steve Ohnsman, of Calvary U.C.C., will be among the guest readers.

Ready. Set. READ! is a collaboration of the United Way, the educational community and business and community organizations.

"We all have a stake in education, as it is the issue that drives the success of individuals, families and ultimately our community," said Tammy White, president of United Way of Berks County. "To improve our community, we need to ensure children have greater opportunities for greater achievements."

The initiative works with local schools to boost reading proficiency for second and third graders who have been identified as struggling with their reading ability, officials said.

During the past six months, White said more than 90 trained volunteers worked with nearly 140 students in four school districts: Exeter, Hamburg, Reading and Muhlenberg. The program will expand during the 2013-14 school year to include additional schools within those districts, as well as schools within the Antietam, Daniel Boone and Governor Mifflin school districts.

The expanded efforts will require 300 volunteers, officials said. To learn about volunteer opportunities, contact Darby Wiekrykas at 610-685-4574 or visit the initiative's website.

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