Library Program Tackles SC Reading Problem

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- In one room at the Richland Library Northeast Branch, silence isn't golden. Inside, children are hearing learning and crafting stories that could strengthen and encourage their skills in reading.

"A lot of times during the summer a lot of kids watch TV and they stay at their friend's house and they usually fall behind," said Deirdre Goodwin, a former substitute teacher.

She runs Auntie Dee Dee's Summer Fever Camp and gets kids to take part in the library's summer reading program that partners with social services and Richland School District Two. It targets the issues of students who need help with reading and good nutrition while they are away from school.

"We know that health and nutrition and wellness is a big part of school readiness, school success, and so it's wonderful opportunity for us to provide both things together," said Georgia Coleman, Richland Library Community Outreach Manager.

The library's program has provided more than 500 meals so far this year. Coleman is hoping they can expand next summer.

This program and others like it help fight low literary proficiency among students in South Carolina.

A report release Friday by Children's Trust from the annual Kids Count Data Book says 72 percent of fourth graders in our state are not proficient in reading.

"What that linear pattern shows us is that early on is the most important year of a kid's life. If they're not doing well early on, they're not gonna be doing well later," said Melissa Strompolis, Coordinator of Impact Assessment and Evaluation with Children's Trust.

That is why she says efforts from lawmakers and the community groups are so important.

Children's Trust suggests people get involved with organizations working to improve reading, and if you cannot do that, try simply reading to the children in your life.

It is a simple step that Goodwin says has a lasting impact.

"If a child knows how to read, it keeps them out of trouble at school, they'll pay more attention, and they'll have a higher self-esteem," said Goodwin.


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