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Folks know we are reading enthusiasts here at the newspaper. Obviously, that makes sense in our line of business.
As print and on-line information providers, it’s, well, kind of important that our current and future customers are have effective reading skills.
Hence, over the years we have been ardent advocates of education and literacy initiatives.
A recent note of thanks from Roane Imagination Library officials mentioned our long-standing support of that organization through the investment of our resources — both in time and money. We appreciated the kind words. More important, we applaud RIL’s efforts. Those volunteers are the ones making a difference in the lives of thousands of our children.
Another group is working hard to convey the importance of reading to residents of Roane County and the state.
Ralph Best of Kingston Rotary filled me in on it not long ago.
Best carried a pile of research paperwork into my office. He was well-armed and prepared to pitch the efforts of the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Tennessee Valley.
Besides his persuasive message, I zeroed straight in on one of the foundation’s “talking points.”
“The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Tennessee Valley will promote and collaborate with the tremendously successful Dolly Parton Imagination Library (Roane County chapter), which distributes free books to preschool children in Roane County.”
Let’s just say it didn’t take long for me to open my checkbook for the Foundation’s upcoming kickoff luncheon. Any organization willing to support the cause that is in the heart of my hearts deserves some seed money.
Numerous state and local dignitaries — including First Lady Crissy Haslam — are scheduled to participate in the 11:30 a.m. Reading Awareness Campaign kickoff event at Roane State Community College on Thursday, July 21.
Best, in his trademark baritone voice, exuded excitement as he described the preliminary legwork going into the event.
Volunteers are seeking foundation sponsors, event sponsors and table sponsors. He rattled off a list of officials who will be in attendance and sharing their support.
To name a few besides Haslam will be Roane State President Gary Goff, state Rep. Julia Hurley, Roane County Director of Schools Toni Mc-Griff, and pretty much everyone who is anyone on the local government scene.
The goal of the campaign is to cultivate a culture in the Roane County community that supports and promotes all children learning to read well by the third grade. To get from Point A to Point B can be described as a marathon instead of a sprint.
Best’s material said the foundation “will accomplish this by providing and promoting education and encouragement to and of parents (and caregivers) on their important role in raising children who can read well.”
To do so, the first lady promotes the heartbeat of the program … “read to your child 20 minutes each day.”
It’s a cut-and-dried concept.
Data indicate childhood literacy continues to be a challenge in our otherwise blessed corner of the world. Approximately one third of the 600 or so children entering kindergarten in Roane County Schools are not adequately prepared to begin to read along with their classmates. This puts an average of 200 youngsters at a disadvantage. Monetized, it also requires additional investment (up to $2,000 per student) by the school system to provide remedial education.
Seems to me, some up-front work might be the best strategy to employ.
With that said, let’s continue to endorse all efforts to promote literacy in our community. You can be a part of the kickoff luncheon for as little as $25 per person. Of course, table, event and foundation sponsorships are also available.
If you wish to roll up your sleeves and help, contact Best or any member of Kingston Rotary.
You can also read more about the foundation and the event by visiting www.readingfoundation.org/tennessee_valley for more details.