DBG Reading Superstars: Joshua and Laura’s Story

Laura and Joshua read together during a virtual session

It’s startling but true. Studies show more than half of Michigan’s third-grade students can not read at their grade level. The numbers are even more alarming for students in urban communities like Detroit. That’s unacceptable. And we’re doing something to change it.

Every week at DBG, our staff, tutors, mentors and students work diligently on reading, following our partner, the Center For Success Network’s, mentoring outline. As our founder and CEO, Khali Sweeney points out, “Reading is one of the most important things you can do in this world. You can’t live in a tech-based world if you can’t read. You can’t function in society if you can’t read.”

Our students know that and they are making great strides. Joshua and Laura are a perfect example. 11-year-old Joshua is paired with Laura, a Public Health and Biological sciences student at Wayne State University, who’s been volunteering with DBG since 2020. Twice a week, they meet virtually to work on reading, writing, comprehension, reflection and literacy activities. Joshua has jumped more than 5 reading levels since they started working on short stories together. He’s now on his third chapter book and is currently reading Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters.

Joshua shows off the book he’s currently reading

“I love hearing stories, love all the action, and I love visualizing the story myself,” Joshua says.

“In terms of academic growth, Joshua told me his teacher is really impressed by how he knows how to write paragraphs by himself when assigned a short essay on a book they read in class,” Laura says. “He feels proud and says our writing activities helped him accomplish that.”

Joshua also says he now has an easier time with his school work overall.

“Josh has improved immensely with the flow of his reading,” Laura adds. “He’s more engaged, asking thoughtful questions and making keen observations while we read. He does a wonderful job writing and identifying English rules and grammar and he’s aware of what he wants to improve upon. Overall, I’m very proud of all the progress Josh has made and even happier that he is proud of himself.”

We are incredibly proud of ALL of our young readers. Over the course of just our first semester partnering with Center For Success, DBG students reading at or above grade level improved from 16% to 47%. With the right support, our students improve quickly and learn a critical skill that stays with them for life.

Laura and Joshua read together during a virtual session

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