Reading coaches go online to help Philly kids avoid summer slide

8-year-old David Oplacio participating in The Reading Coaches
Photo credit Courtesy of City of Philadelphia Office of Children and Families

“It’s really fun to read chapter books and learn new things,” the 8-year-old said. 

The Reading Coaches is a program where kids from kindergarten through third grade are paired up with teens and older volunteers in an effort to make sure they are proficient in reading.

But the program was forced to temporarily close down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, a move that left David and dozens of other kids across the city cut off from their coaches.

Philly Reading Coaches executive director Johniece Foster said they've since been able to restart via Zoom, and it will run to the start of the school year.

"This is our first time running summer programming and our goal is to really continue to help children fall in love with reading,” Foster said. 

That’s something 6-year-old Zabria Woodard said is a cool part of her day.

“It was interesting but fun, cause you're not in person,” she said. 

David said it took some getting used to reading to someone over the computer, but he's enjoying it, and it's helped him a lot. 

“I like that we can still talk together even if we can't talk in person,” he said.

The program not only provides kids with an opportunity to read with a coach a few times a week, it also gives them more than two dozen books to help build their libraries.

Foster added the program is for kids from all over the city, and they are always looking for volunteers.