Proving that “Reading Matters in Macon County”
Community members throughout the county are teaming up to promote early literacy for children. From girl scouts to a member of the Board of Education, Maconians are joining together for the Read2Me – “Reading Matters in Macon County”, an initiative to put books in the hands of children beginning at birth and to teach parents the importance of reading to children at an early age.
Read2Me is a public awareness campaign geared towards encouraging the community at large to become highly invested in promoting children learning to read early in order to help all children realize their potential in school and in life.
“I am extremely excited about Read2Me and the involvement of the community to promote early literacy, not just for our students, but for everyone in the county,” said Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman. “Reading is the main foundation for all areas of academics and the benefit of Read2Me is twofold. Not only will students learn the importance of reading through the initiative, but they will also feel the support created from full involvement of the community because of organizations like the Rotary club, Girl Scouts, and the Reading Council who are working with the program.”
The Read2Me committee has developed a three-fold mission to work toward making sure every child reads on a grade level by the time they enter kindergarten. The three goals of Read2Me are 1) “To make early reading a priority for every person and facilitate community involvement in this process,” 2) “To get books into the hands of all children beginning at birth,” and 3) “To Provide training and education for family members about their important role in raising a reader.”
Although the campaign is still in its early stages, nearly 2,500 books have been collected, labeled, and are ready to distribute to children throughout the county. Used books have been donated from libraries, and others have been collected by Macon County’s Junior Girl Scouts in Troop 30179.
Alyssa Hammaker, Olivia Hedden, and Madison Tallent have taken on the challenge of collecting as many books as possible to work toward earning their Bronze Awards. The Bronze Award is the highest award girls can earn as Junior Girl Scouts. In order to achieve it, each girl must complete a task which acts as a service to the community, it must be sustainable, and each girl must spend a minimum of 20 hours working on the project.
The girls chose to collect the books for Read2Me because reading is so important to them and they want to be able to give back to other kids in the county. “I wanted to help Read2Me because I love to read and I love books and I think it is important to make sure that every kid in Macon County has their own book,” said Madison Tallent. “When I first heard about Read2Me I didn’t know that some kids don’t have books and I wanted to help to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore.”
“I wanted to collect books because reading is one of my favorite things to do and everyone should have the chance to read,” said Olivia Hedden.
The Girl Scouts have taken on the mission of decorating Read2Me boxes and putting them at businesses around Franklin. Community businesses and organizations such as Carolina Junction, Here we Grow, Pollywogs, Fat Buddies and Healthworks allowed the Girl Scouts to display boxes in front of their businesses so customers could donate to the Read2Me initiative.
Once the boxes are full, the girls collect them and then sort the books based on reading level and the condition of the book. The girls will work with Mrs. Greeble at Mountain View Intermediate School to repair books that need “special attention.”
“Sometimes we get books that have been damaged, but we are going to be learning how to fix up the books so we can give them to kids who need them,” said Alyssa Hammaker.
The Read2Me initiative has gained support from community organizations like The Rotary Club, The Western Mountains Reading Council, and The Macon County News.
On Feb. 28, the Western Mountains Reading Council will host the first annual Community Spelling and Trivia Bee to benefit Read2Me. The Spelling and Trivia Bee is a familyfriendly event designed to celebrate learning while raising awareness and support for the Reading Council.
The event is designed for up to 25 teams of three adults and one student who will compete in a friendly and lively single elimination competition to spell increasingly difficult words and answer interspersed trivia questions. Teams will be encouraged to create a team name, wear unique team T-shirts or costumes and to bring a cheering section, and prizes will be awarded for each category. The registration fee is $50 per team and $2 admission for spectators, and the proceeds raised will go to benefit the Read2Me initiative.
The Macon County News is teaming with North Carolina author Gloria Houston to begin publishing excerpts of her book “LittleJim” in each week of the paper. As a free, independent newspaper, The Macon County News hopes by publishing chapters of Houston’s book we can provide literature for free while helping with Read2Me’s efforts to promote early literacy and help to encourage parents to raise a reader.