The Reader/Writer model was developed by educator Lia Venchi to increase literacy skills of inner city secondary students. For her students to significantly improve their writing and prepare for a future with opportunities, Lia understood that they needed to “just write.” All the time.
But who would read and comment on those writings with the care and attention each needed and deserved? After trying to be that person and failing for lack of enough hours in the day, she created Reader/Writer and turned to the community to join her.
Business people, attorneys, college seniors and community members stepped in to become writing mentors and more. As Reader/Writer took off, three things became apparent:
- With a “real” audience, young writers write more, with more care and quickly become more skilled;
- They benefit emotionally;
- Adult readers, in their own ways, benefit as much as youth do.
Reader/Writer gave kids a reason to write and Readers an opportunity to grow personally and impact adolescents’ lives in a practical and satisfying way.
Easy to set up, easy to run, Reader/Writer spread throughout the area of St. Paul and Minneapolis and became a favorite community outreach program of the American Bar Association. International Baccalaureate, a premier high school academic program, noted that it provided excellent preparation for high-level college-prep classes.
Reader/Writer at this time is being reintroduced as a supplemental literacy initiative for secondary school and alternative settings after being redesigned and adapted for a new generation of urban teens.