The Rotary Club of the Abingtons and the Abington Business & Professional Association (ABPA) are teaming up to promote literacy for children in the Abingtons.
Noreen Thomas, president of The Rotary club, said the organization is working with local ABPA businesses to collect children’s books for the national “Reach Out and Read” program.
According to reachoutandread.org, the program is designed to help “integrate reading into pediatric practices, advise families about the importance of reading with their children, and share books that serve as a catalyst for healthy childhood development.”
Thomas said the Rotary club was interested in participating because it “promotes literacy as one of its primary international and local goals and objectives.”
Rotarian Sandie Lamanna, who suggested supporting “Reach Out and Read” locally, said, “We have been working on this for several months after forming a literacy committee that will facilitate projects aimed at the eradication of illiteracy in our area.”
Lamanna said the club is involved for two main reasons.
“First of all, Rotary is dedicated to six areas of focus to build international relationships, improve lives, and create a better world to support our peace efforts and end polio forever. One of these areas is literacy,” she said.
She added, “The U.S. is in the middle of a literacy crisis. Although we have seen pockets of excellence and an increase in children’s literacy development, the latest NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores indicate that the needle has not moved on a national level. The PSSA’s (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) score in Pennsylvania pretty much reflects those scores. About 40 percent of our students are not reading at a basic level and when the scores are disaggregated, the scores of children of color show that approximately 70 percent of Hispanic and African American children are reading at below basic levels.”
Thomas said the Rotary Club of the Abingtons hopes to get the “Reach Out and Read” project up and running by Feb. 1.
“Our goal is to work in conjunction with the local businesses of the ABPA to collect children’s books in bins located in the local stores for distribution to the program,’” she said. “We hope all local ABPA businesses in the Clarks Summit area will consider having a book container in their business to collect as many children’s books as we can for this wonderful cause.”
“This program is implemented in pediatric exam rooms where trained doctors and nurses talk to parents about the importance of reading aloud to children,” Thomas explained. “At each wellness check-up, children age 6 months to 5 years receive a book to take home.”
Lamanna said, “The goals for this particular project is to provide books for the two health care providers in the area that have become part of the international Reach out and Read program.”
She noted that local health care providers in the national ‘Reach out and Read’ network include Primary Health Care Center of Scranton, Joe Hollander, CEO; and The Wright Center for Community Health, Linda Thomas Hemak, CEO.
“Reach Out and Read gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together,” Lamanna said.
She added, “Children and their families benefit as literacy is the gateway to learning. It is the foundation for academic success in school as well as success in life. The NICHD (Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) has declared illiteracy to be a public health problem, so the community benefits from having literate citizens. In other words, everyone benefits.
“Children’s books are a rich source of vocabulary and background knowledge. Through our health care providers, we will be putting books in homes that otherwise may not have them due to economic difficulties.”
Teri Lyon is a mom, grandmom and freelance writer who lives in Glenburn Township with her cat.