How Plumbing Supplies Help Students Read

Can water pipe help improve literacy? Surprisingly, the answer is yes.

It’s important for children to hear themselves read aloud as they develop their reading skills, but that can be difficult in a classroom full of students. At Albany’s Oak Elementary School, teachers and reading instructors discovered a creative way to encourage the practice while keeping classroom disruptions to a minimum.

They call them “reading phones”—simple devices made of a short piece of PVC pipe and two fittings. As children quietly read aloud into the mouthpiece of the phone, they hear their own voice in the earpiece.

“Listening to themselves read builds a greater awareness of sounds, fluency and also hearing errors that need correction,” said Susan Allen, Reading Intervention Coach.

Students improve their reading skills by hearing themselves read aloud.

Students improve their reading skills by hearing themselves read aloud.

Stutzman Services was approached with the opportunity to provide some of the raw materials for the simple devices, and we were happy to donate hundreds of the PVC fittings.

“We appreciate the support. This donation will make a lasting impact on individual students and strengthen our future community,” said Holly Nafziger, Reading Group Instructor.

Some students were allowed to decorate their phone and bring it home for the summer, along with a new book, to help keep up their reading skills until next school year begins.

You too can impact a child’s life by helping them learn to read, and no plumbing skills or supplies are required. SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) is seeking volunteers to read one-on-one each week with a local student in preschool through third grade. Visit or call 541-753-0822 for more information.