martha reads week1

Martha Razor reads stories from local children.

Martha Reads, Fridays, 10 a.m. on Facebook

A new weekly Facebook segment featuring stories written by local children. Join us each week online to hear a new story.

May 8 Featured Story:
The Donkey Who Lost His Memory
by Ruben, 2nd Grade
James Hurst Elementary, Portsmouth

May 15 Featured Story: 
The Little Scared Fish
by Sahasra, 1st Grade
Kiln Creek Elementary, Newport News

May 22 Featured Story:
One Inch Tall
by Mariana, 3rd Grade
Stonehouse Elementary, Williamsburg

When Virginia leaders announced in March that schools across the Commonwealth would close for the remaining academic year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the education staff at WHRO Public Media quickly changed up their normal routines to seek new ways to support teachers and parents as they ventured into at-home learning.

For our Early Childhood Learning team, this meant monumental changes. Our children’s services specialists on this team typically spend most of their time out in the community delivering lessons to children at schools, libraries and community centers to encourage reading and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, our educators were forced to park their colorful STEM and Reading Vans and find new methods of reaching children.

One new project that will soon launch is Martha Reads. Since her team couldn’t read to children in person, Martha Razor, manager of early childhood learning, decided to bring the stories to students virtually. Each week on Facebook, Martha will read a new story aloud. Rather than reading the books that children may already know, or could possibly find on their shelves at home, Martha will read stories that were submitted in previous years to our annual Young Storytellers Contest. These short tales are stories written by children, for children, with accompanying illustrations.

Martha taught for 15 years before coming to WHRO Education, so she is no stranger to classroom activities. Developing early literacy in children has always been one of her greatest joys. As part of her role at WHRO, she helps students throughout Eastern Virginia develop reading skills through our Literacy Van program, summer reading camps, and by providing books to students in under-served communities where books are not easily accessible in the home. She especially enjoys encouraging young students who struggle with reading to practice so they can become better, as well as distributing books to children through our First Books initiative.

“Out of all the activities that I participate in at WHRO, this is my passion. I love children reading and I love literacy,” Martha explains. “Even after 14 years, I still see the same expression on a child’s face when they receive a book. The children really get excited about having their own book to hold and keep.”

According to the Casey Foundation, students who are not proficient in reading by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school than proficient readers. Children who receive books are more likely to increase reading time at home, have an increase in their desire to learn, and, most importantly, have a higher interest in reading.

Join us every Friday at 10 a.m. on our Facebook page for Martha Reads.