Reading Buddies keeps the momentum going with Family Reading Night!

Aspire Reading Buddies has expanded its mission of early literacy enrichment from summer into the school year with our first ever Family Reading Night, held at Emerson CDC on December 10.
Family participation is key to building pre-literacy skills, closing the vocabulary “word gap” and ensuring kindergarten readiness.  With that in mind, Reading Buddies hosted evening of reading activities, entertainment, and family fun, with help from Emerson CDC’s enthusiastic and supportive staff and our partners at Raising a Reader.

Reading Buddies teen volunteers got a chance to re-unite with their preschool “buddies,” playing alphabet games to practice letter recognition and filling in books with blank pages to reinforce concepts of print and narrative skills. Our friends at Raising a Reader presented a lively read aloud, followed by a conversation with parents about ways to enhance the reading experience at home.  Families also signed up to receive regular tips on how to make the most of their own family reading time. 28 members of the community attended, and every child left with a book to take home.

We at Aspire have always known the benefits of one-on-one literacy mentoring, and we’re delighted to enhance and extend that work through closer collaboration with families. Thank you to everyone who helped make our first Family Reading Night a soaring success!


Community Reading Buddies 2014 had a great year!

If you missed our #GivingTuesday campaign, you can still Click here to support Reading Buddies 2015.


The program was held at four sites in Oakland and Berkeley this year. 136 volunteer mentors were recruited from 46 schools in the Bay Area (and beyond), and over the course of eight weeks, the youth mentors focused on literacy with over 100 preschool buddies. During closing ceremonies held at each site, young buddies were given certificates of achievement for completing the program.

Family engagement is key to helping children learn to read. To address this, Community Reading Buddies teamed with Raising A Reader for our second year to present a parent workshop at Highland CDC. The workshop, “Early Brain Development and Interactive Book-Sharing,” was presented by Raising A Reader’s Sara Rizik-Baer in English and Spanish.

2014 Reading Buddies sites:

Room to Bloom (at Castlemont High School)
Mondays, 9:15-11:15 AM
8601 MacArthur Blvd, Building 300, Classroom 301
Highland CDC (off International Blvd)
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00-11:00 AM
1322 86th Avenue, Oakland, CA 94621
King CDC (near Ashby BART)
Wednesdays, 2:30-4:30 PM
1939 Ward Street, Berkeley, CA 94703
Emerson CDC (near Oakland Tech)
Fridays, 2:15-4:15 PM
4801 Lawton Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609


Community Reading Buddies runs on community support.


Support from the community is vital to the success and expansion of CRB. Your donation will help ensure that we can continue improving literacy and opportunity for young children in the East Bay.



About Reading Buddies

In Alameda County, nearly 70% of low-income youth are not proficient readers by the end of 3rd grade.(1) We at Aspire Education Project are committed to combatting this epidemic by building a love of reading in preschoolers through the Community Reading Buddies program.Community Reading Buddies was started in 1994 by Nancy McKee-Jolda, an AEP board member. In 2006 she handed operation of the program over to AEP, and CRB has been growing ever since. CRB exemplifies Aspire’s integrated approach to community learning.

Each summer, over a hundred junior high and high school students volunteer to spend time reading one-on-one with preschoolers from Child Development Centers in the East Bay.The volunteers lead reading activities and games, weaving in academic content from a variety of topics, including science, music, and art. The teenage volunteers act as mentors and “buddies” for their younger charges. At the same time, the volunteers learn from the children they are teaching: it is an opportunity for the junior high and high school mentors to interact with neighbors from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. The mentors are provided with training in pedagogy and exposed to the challenges and rewards of teaching. Some mentors may also choose to take on leadership roles, helping to structure activities and guide fellow mentors.

Community Reading Buddies is about transferring knowledge in multiple directions—the “students” improve their language skills, the “teachers” learn to teach, and everyone learns more about the greater East Bay community. The success of this program can be seen in its longevity, the high return rate of former participants, and the broad support it receives from parents and teachers. We plan to eventually expand the program to run year-round.

(1)Data Source: California Department of Education, Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Results, (Accessed March 2013).