Growing Readers Program recieves award

The Growing Readers Program, a volunteer program directed by Gannon University’s chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, was recognized by the society with a service award.

Kappa Delta Pi, an International Education Honors Society, only presents four awards worldwide. Gannon’s Phi Zeta chapter was deemed outstanding in its service by the presentation of the Community Service Chapter Program.  Robin Quick, Ph.D., the program director and an assistant professor of education, said this is an honor.  “It was really amazing that we got such good feedback,” she said.

The Growing Readers Program has been operated by Gannon’s Kappa Delta Pi chapter for three years.

It focuses on strengthening literacy and language skills in infants and toddlers of teen parents.  The toddler -age program was added only recently, thanks to grants.

In collaboration with the Erie School District Student Parenting Program, the Stackpole-Hall foundation, and the Erie Reading Council, the Growing Readers Program has received funding that allows all materials to be free to the parents it works with.

It supplies each parent with a bag full of supplementary reading supplies including books designed for the learning level for each child, brochures on reading to infants, information on the Erie Library, coupons and hand sanitizer.

The program works exclusively with students under the age of 3 because it’s a crucial time for language development, according to Quick.


“We tell the parents that most people wait until preschool age to read to their children, but you don’t want to wait that long,” she said. “The better [we can build] children’s vocabulary, the more knowledge they have.  Language is built first, and everything else links to it.

“If we help build the vocabulary of these kids between the ages of zero and 3, the ‘new’ words they learn in school aren’t really new.  They are part of a lexicon they can draw from.”

The concept is based on the Hart and Risley study that looked at the effects of reading to infant and toddler ages in different income households.  It showed that kids exposed to more vocabulary had an advantage once they started school.  The Growing Readers Program hopes to give children of teen parents in Erie the same advantage as children with a large exposure to reading.

Beth Mayer, a senior early childhood and special education major and Kappa Delta Pi president, joined the honors society two years ago.

“When I was initiated, I did not realize the impact the organization would have on me nor the impact the organization would have on our community,” she said.

Mayer worked with forming the program and has been able to see it progress.

“I loved seeing the project expand and being able to have a hand in the growth that has taken place,” she said. “The future looks bright for Growing Readers and the children it serves. We recently trained our new members and they are ready to present and share the information with more parents this school year.”

Kelsey Ghering, [email protected]