Reading Buddies

Encouraging and Supporting Children’s Reading Development

Reading Buddies: Encouraging and Supporting Children’s Reading Development

Fourth grade is the pivotal point in a child’s reading development when they transition from learning to read, to reading to learn. Statistics show that a student who struggles with reading by the start of 4th grade is four times more likely to drop out of high school, so reading to children early, increasing access to educational materials and learning opportunities, and providing support from the community can help empower youth and move the needle on grade-level reading.

Through our global community involvement partner, the United Way, and our signature Dedication to Education volunteer program, we were able to engage more than 700 Pitney Bowes volunteers across 23 teams in North America in packing 1,735 Reading Buddies Kits. The kits consisted of a teddy bear stuffed by volunteers coupled with a children’s book, a thoughtfully decorated bookmark, reading tips, and a handwritten note of encouragement for students in the community.

A girl is standing.

The intention of the Reading Buddies project is to encourage children to read aloud, which is a great technique to improve fluency and reading skills; however, not all children feel comfortable reading in front of other people. A stuffed animal reading buddy can help by allowing a child to practice reading without the added performance anxiety.

Thank you to our partners at United Way for helping us make a difference. Since 1955, United Way has played an invaluable role in our volunteer and giving programs. Our interests are aligned with United Way’s mission to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good of community, education, and literacy. United Way’s deep expertise, global presence, and understanding of critical community needs provide a substantial boost to the effectiveness of our giving, advocacy, and volunteering.

Employees with reading.

United Way and Beneficiary Thoughts from the day:

“We can't thank you enough for including us in this wonderful opportunity!”
- Shaye Roscoem CEO, Boys & Girls Club of Lower Naugatuck Valley Shelton, CT
“This was one of the most rewarding and fun activities I have ever been a part of and was elated to see the children so excited to receive their gifts.”
Carlene Williams Valley United Way Shelton, CT
“The combination of early childhood literacy with love and comfort of a stuffed bear was a fantastic idea. It serves both an educational and emotional need.”
Jacob Orand United Way of the Midlands Omaha, NE
“Reading Buddies will enable the youngest guests who live at the Orlando Union Rescue Mission to experience the joy of reading and learning. They will recognize the thrill of continual learning and will form the foundation for life-long success and stability.”
- Karen Kestner, Director of Development Orlando Union Rescue Mission
“There was so much energy in the room. The volunteers were fully engaged in the activity as well as learning more about United Way of Central Maryland. Many completed more than one kit and were designing and signing the enclosed card as if it were a Picasso.”
- Sophia Minott, United Way of Central Maryland