AmeriCorps in Action

Reading Tutor Reflects on Her “Why”

Ruby is a Reading Tutor in Mississippi. Serving in her third year, she has become a well-loved figure in her students’ lives. With multiple grand and great-grandchildren, she plans on using her AmeriCorps education award to help her family pay for college. Continue reading to learn more about how she’s using her passion for reading to inspire that same passion in her students. 

Family and Reading

I was the oldest of five siblings. Both parents worked, so it was my job, after evening chores, to help with all homework. This meant that I had to learn to read at a very early age. 

We didn’t have access to many books, so my mother taught me to read by using the newspaper, starting with the “funny paper” or comics. By the time I was four to five years old, I had a pretty good vocabulary, and I could read most anything. 

Being able to read at an early age, I learned about places other than the area I lived in. Reading would take me “away.” What reading would do is expose me, in print, to the world. With this knowledge I would share with my sisters and brothers, as well my friends and schoolmates. I learned that there were real places with funny names, like Uganda and Massachusetts. I learned that China is a country and not just dishes. Even though I didn’t realize how poor we were, I knew traveling was just a dream…but I could go anywhere when I read. 

Reading was my “window” and “doorway” to the world. I could “peek” out of my window and see things like the Grand Canyon, the Nile River and the plains of Africa. I could open my door and step into outer space or the family of Little Women, and I even imagined helping Sojourner Truth while reading her story. 

My world was expansive. I became exposed to so many things through books. This is why I am so elated to be a Reading Tutor. I can pass on the love of reading to my students. Although my background is not education, I am a reader, and this gift I freely share and give to my students.

We’re looking for more people like Ruby to become Reading Tutors across the country! Visit to learn more and apply at a school near you.

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