Bright Spot: Non-profit is helping kids improve their literacy from home (WFSB)

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(WFSB) – A local non-profit is helping kids improve their literacy from home.

For 8 years now CRIS Radio (Connecticut Radio Information System) began to expand their services to students around the state.

“Teachers came to us and said ‘Hey we have special needs kids that are not able to access classroom material. Can you do custom recordings?' So, we started doing that,” explains Diane Weaver Dunne, Executive Director of CRIS Radio.

Fast forward to today, not only are there over 1,300 recordings available in their ‘CRISKids Audio Library’ for all grades, but now they are offering something new for students from Hartford to Enfield.

“During this pandemic, we realized teachers were really overwhelmed, kids were sick of being in front of the computer screens so we said let's do a book bag, a CRIS Kids book bag.”

Colleen Semanie, Literacy Coordinator for ERFC explains how it works. “The kids can take home 5 books and we preload all those books onto an MP3 player and send it home with stickers and a rainbow chart so they can track how many books they’re reading.”

And they are already seeing positive results from the book club. An independent study based off of standardized test scores of ERFC kids in a 14-month period found that 75% of the lowest-level readers improved significantly more compared with 10% of the kids who did not use it.

The CRIS Kids book bag is incorporated into the ERFC summer camp as well.