A Focus on Early Literacy

Reading is foundational to learning

Do you recall the exact moment when words on a page first came to life for you?  Maybe the initial word you read was ‘look’ or ‘go’ or something as warm and inviting as the word ‘home’.  Whatever the word, you, like me and many before us, were probably too young to fully comprehend how those first words would lead to an ocean of words, helping us set sail on adventures, expanding our minds and hearts and helping us to grow.  The adage ‘learn to read so you can read to learn’ is an understatement. 

I recently participated in a segment of End Book Deserts podcast with Dr. Molly Ness, V.P of Academic Content for Learning Ally, to discuss our company’s commitment to education and early literacy.  It was a pleasure to learn about the important work Dr. Ness champions to support early literacy and to share our approach to addressing this issue.  Below is an excerpt from that podcast.

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Pitney Bowes, our employees and the Pitney Bowes Foundation understand that reading is the foundation to all learning. This is why we place a special emphasis on early literacy and work diligently with our nonprofit partners to open opportunities for all children to become lifelong readers. 

The Pitney Bowes Foundation’s efforts have carved many pathways to literacy success by partnering with national literacy leaders, including Reading is Fundamental (RIF) via their Share the Message to Read program; Read to a Child, a national mentoring and literacy nonprofit founded on the belief that every child deserves to be read to regularly by a caring adult; and United Way’s Reading Buddies program, where teams of Pitney Bowes volunteers work together to build kits that include reading buddy teddy bears, the beloved and classic Berenstain Bears books and written words of encouragement to young children. Our volunteers also visit classrooms and museums regularly to read aloud and conduct craft activities with children and help them select their very own new RIF book to take home. 

“When a child can write their name in their first book and take it home, it is a magical experience,” comments Dr. Ness. As an early educator, she recalls Pitney Bowes volunteers coming to her school, and the transformative nature she saw when children got to select a book of their own to take home from the table. “It was inspiring!” 

Literacy and Volunteering - A Smart Investment

Investing in literacy – whether with time or money - is a smart investment. Our employees thoroughly enjoy these volunteer activities and sense the impact they are having. While studies show the power of mentorship, there are also those individual stories that can drive the point home.  A few years back, a chance meeting with a young woman who recalled her own childhood memory with a Pitney Bowes reading mentor captured the experience perfectly when she commented that her reading mentor changed her life. Today, I mentor a first grader through a virtual program with Read to a Child.  While I am energized by our weekly sessions, I am also excited by the prospects of this young leaner expanding his love of reading and growing into a confident student.   

We often hear how our volunteers feel uplifted as they describe their experiences reading with a child.  The simple act of reading to a child is powerful and enriching; it changes all of us for the better. I encourage everyone to do it.

In closing the interview, Dr. Ness asked me one final question… What is one book that had a profound impact on you? While it was a bit challenging to answering that question as a former English Literature major, I knew there was only one response:  Moby-Dick.  I grew up in New York City, and Moby-Dick took me on a journey through the “watery part of the world,” as Melville would describe it. The novel was operatic in scope. It was also filled with poetry, humor and horror. It was like nothing I had ever read before, and it gave me a glimpse into the power of great writing. Growing up, I would start most summers revisiting passages from Moby-Dick, and, as with all great books, I would learn something new with each reading.