Reading Soul Mates

“Children receiving one-on-one tutoring set up by community groups have shown greater progress than children without that support.”

– Howard Lee, N.C. School Board Chairman

Reading Soul Mates (RSM) is a preventive program providing support to identified children in 2nd grade who need some assistance in improving their reading/literacy skills.  RSM was created in 1999 by Gaston Literacy Council, Inc. in partnership with Gaston County Schools.

The program produces extraordinary results!  Most recent data from the 2018-2019 school year reports that 83 out of 85 children served, 98%, showed improvement in their reading skills. Forty-nine (49) of these students achieved grade level reading, with eighteen (18) achieving above grade level skills.

RSM is designed to help children develop a positive attitude toward reading, achieve success in school, and build self-confidence. It also fosters children’s creative thinking and problem solving skills, nurtures a love of books, and aids in the development of comprehension skills. Reading activities help children relate the story to their own lives, ensuring success by linking prior knowledge to what they have read.

GLC and the Reading Soul Mates tutors were saddened when Covid-19 brought our program to a quick halt in March, 2020.  We are crossing our fingers to be back into the schools as soon as possible.  We miss our “buddies!” 

Schools with Reading Soul Mates Program in 2019-2020:

  • Belmont Central
  • Carr
  • Catawba Heights
  • Gardner Park
  • Lingerfeldt
  • Lowell
  • North Belmont
  • Pleasant Ridge
  • Rankin
  • Sadler
  • Sherwood
  • Woodhill


Through Reading Soul Mates (RSM), second grade students, reading below grade level and at-risk of grade retention, are matched with supportive role models who tutor, set expectations, and provide motivation and guidance. Reading Soul Mates provides students with extra, targeted tutoring that improves their reading abilities so they can read at grade level with their classmates. RSM tutors are Gaston Literacy Council volunteers who complete a pre-service training that includes strategies in reading instruction, understanding the characteristics of children to be tutored, and an overview of Gaston County Schools volunteer policies and procedures.

Contact us about volunteer training and opportunities.


The curriculum includes a variety of language skill-building activities in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Students are taught to focus on meaning and to use problem-solving strategies to figure out words, deal with difficult sentence structure, and understand concepts they have never encountered in print.

Picture books also provide students with opportunities to expand their vocabulary, to interpret stories, and to recognize how illustrations contribute to the story. School administrators determine student eligibility for participation by school-administered assessments in reading.