Impact of Kindles4Covid Virtual Reading Buddies Program on reading frequency and social connections
(1) Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan; ByKids4Kids Non-profit Organization, Ann Arbor, Michigan, (2) Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan
The summer reading gap affects children throughout the United States every single year, and with the COVID pandemic, the issue has heightened. As part of the ByKids4Kids organization, we developed the Kindles4Covid Virtual Reading Buddies Program to combat potential reading regression and social isolation in youth during the COVID-19 pandemic in the fall and winter of 2020. The program consisted of groups of two or three reading buddies, along with a facilitator (a high school or college student) who coordinated meetings for the buddies and assisted in choosing a piece of literature to read during the meetings. The participants completed pre- and post-program surveys consisting of short-answer and multiple-choice questions that we assessed to determine whether the students achieved the program goals of improved reading frequency and connections with peers. We hypothesized that routine, weekly contact with other youth and increased exposure to reading materials would help achieve these goals. Our data analysis suggests that our program was able to achieve its goals of increasing reading frequency (37.5% vs. 100%, pre vs. post intervention) and forming connections (37.5% vs. 87.5%, pre vs. post intervention). This work indicates that a structured and routine reading buddies program successfully addressed some challenges brought on by isolation during the pandemic.