Group need's community's help in fighting illiteracy

Feb. 11, 2014 @ 06:44 PM

Franklin-Granville-Vance Smart Start needs reading volunteers for the last step of its Reach Out and Read program, which promotes early literacy by giving new books to children during routine pediatric visits.

Garry Daeke, a development coordinator at Smart Start, describes the program as “immunizing children against illiteracy.”

“We know from a lot of studies that the impact point for parents is at the pediatrician office,” he said. “We know that is the one place where parents really listen.”

FGV is partnering with three North Carolina Pediatric Associates locations in Vance and Granville counties and the Franklin County Health Department.

Pediatricians at the partnering locations speak to parents about the importance of reading to their children every day and model reading a book aloud to the child, Daeke said.

“They tell parents, ‘It is just as important to read with your child as it is to care for their physical health,’” he said.
FGV Smart Start is in the middle of its second year of implementing Reach Out and Read, which is funded through a $18,000 state grant.

During the 2012-2013 fiscal year, 5,091 new children’s books were delivered to medical practices, benefitting 4,094 children.

An additional component of the program is a reading corner that has been added in the waiting room where children can sit and read while they wait for the doctor. 

New and gently used books are available in the reading corner, and children are encouraged to take a book home with them, Daeke said.

“The piece we are implementing now is to get volunteers to sit down and read with the children before they see the doctor,” Daeke said. “We are trying to instill a love of books and a love of reading.”

FGV Smart Start is soliciting people from the community who would like to give an hour or two each week to read to children. All volunteers must complete a short application and background check to participate.

Those interested in becoming a volunteer can call FGV Smart Start at (252) 433-9110, and ask for Michelle or Garry.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.