Letter | Make some magic with us; read with a child

05/24/2013 2:00 PM

05/24/2013 1:14 PM

Have you ever read with a child?

Then you made magic. You were part of creating a lasting good, a gift which would benefit that child through a lifetime, with ripple effects through society.

Why? Because fostering a skill in reading, even a love of reading, is foundational to every other educational enterprise. Children who can’t read well can’t keep up in school, and grow frustrated – and quit, often before they’ve attained even that minimal standard needed for any kind of success in today’s world, the high school diploma. Compounding this problem, all children lose some of their proficiency over the summer break. Children in less affluent areas, where there is decreased opportunity for mental stimulation, lose a great deal more – and that loss is cumulative. So that, truly, by the time they reach high school, they are so far behind that trying to catch up seems an insurmountable task.

Over 25 percent of students in Horry County don’t graduate from high school. This is a tragedy, and it is a terrible legacy for the future of our county, both socially and economically.

The good news is, there is a very simple fix. Putting a handful of books in a child’s home and reading with them just a few times over the summer break all but eliminates that deficit.

Which is where you come in. Freedom Readers, a nonprofit literacy group founded by Tracy Bailey, is in need of volunteer tutors for the summer session. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to spend seven afternoons, less than two hours each, sitting with one child between the age of 5 and 10 and reading with them, or reading to them, or looking at pictures, or talking about what you read. There are two sites in Conway, one in Myrtle Beach, and one in Georgetown, each on different days, so you can choose which best suits you.

Have you ever read with a child? Then you can do this! We need you; your county needs you; and there’s a child who needs you. If you need service hours for school or scholarships, this is it. I promise, it will be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done.

For more information, you can contact Freedom Readers by leaving a message on our Facebook page (just type in Freedom Readers in the search box) or by calling Tracy Bailey at 843-251-1804. The summer session begins the week of June 17, with a small training session the week prior.

Come make some magic with us!

The writer is a volunteer with Freedom Readers.

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