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News Community Read2Me reflects on one year of promoting early literacy in Macon

Pictured are “My Family Story” book contest (front row, L-R) Aailyah Patel, Kennedy Osborne, and Auroa Pla, with Diane Cotton, Literacy Specialist for Macon County Schools and Robert Shook, director of Macon County Historical Society. Not pictured: Anna Lyons, Katie Sanders.Members of Read2Me met last Thursday at the Blue Ridge Roadhouse in hopes of building momentum for the program. Read2Me is a community literacy campaign geared to encouraging parents to read with their children early and often.

After a year of working in Macon County, the community-oriented group is looking to expand and build new membership to continue with the goal of promoting early literacy and proving that “Reading Matters in Macon County.”

Joined by representatives from the Macon County Health Department, the Fontana Regional Library, The Franklin Press, Angel Medical Center's new CEO, county commissioners and the superintendent of Macon County Schools, members of Read2Me recapped events that have occurred over the past year. From partnering with Franklin Rotary to host North Carolina author Gloria Houston at Macon County School's annual Family Literacy night to book distributions at local events such as StreetFest and the Folk Festival, regardless of the event, members of Read2Me emphasized one common goal: to put books in the hands of birth to preschool-aged children to promote literacy.

Read2Me member and Western Mountain Reading Council President Diane Cotton opened the event by welcoming interested parties to the presentation. “Thank you all for coming and wanting to learn more about what Read2Me has been doing in Macon County,” said Cotton. “We hope that in the future you will want to join us in our efforts to get books to children and to educate parents on the importance of early literacy amongst our children.”

Carol Waldroop and Paula Ledford, members of Read2Me and Macon County School System staff, addressed the group and explained the three-step mission of Read2Me, which involves parent training, book distribution and public awareness. “We are so glad that you all could be here because as the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child and we could use your help,” said Waldroop.

Laura Vargas spoke to guests about the events Read2Me has had to date, which includes most recently a partnership with the Macon County Historical society to host a “My Family Story” book contest. In conjunction with Macon County School's family literacy night, the Historical Society held a contest which encouraged students in the community to narrate and illustrate a story about an event or person in their family.

The books were presented as historical fiction and prizes were awarded based on grade level and category. Judged on creativity, originality, neatness, spelling and grammar and whether it was based on a true event or person, the Historical Society selected three winners, who were recognized at Franklin's Folk Festival. Winners were Kennedy Osborne for Best Kindergarten Story; Aailyah Patel as the Overall winner; Aurora Pla for Best Grandpa Story; Anna Lyons for Best Illustrations; and Katie Sanders for Best Patriotic Theme.

Rotary and Read2Me member Karen Kenney also spoke last Thursday night to invite attendees to become involved in Read2Me. “Regardless of your talent or area of expertise, we would love and welcome your help,” said Kenney. Kenney explained that currently, Read2Me is operating under the non-profit umbrella of the Rotary Club but within the year hopes to expand and become a stand alone nonprofit. In order to do so, Kenney explained Read2Me needed a board of directors and bylaws. According to Kenney, the current members of Read2Me want to remain as the worker bees for the group and hope to have other partners sit on the board.

Those interested in Read2Me are invited to attend the next meeting on Monday, Sept. 17, at 1:30 p.m. at the Macon County Schools Central Office.





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