KC Scott: Breaking the cycle, Rowan Literacy Council and United Way teach people to read
Want your children to be successful? Read to them.
According to a study done by Georgia State University, the quality of children’s home literacy environments and mother-child joint book reading interactions is related to children’s development of early literacy skills. In simple terms, taking a few minutes to read to your child every night will have lifelong positive effects.
What about the children whose parents are functionally illiterate? Let’s start with defining that term. Functionally illiterate means an individual lacks the literacy skills necessary for coping with most jobs and many everyday situations. Going to the grocery store, signing your kid’s field trip permission slip, and ordering off a menu are impossible tasks.
Kids’ books typically include vocabulary not used in everyday conversations. The reason for this is to expand kids’ vocabulary at a young age. The downfall for parents who are functionally illiterate is that they most likely never learned that word and therefore cannot read it aloud. Now both the parent and the child miss out on a learning experience.
That’s where the Rowan County Literacy Council comes in. Since 1976, we’ve offered two adult programs to the Rowan County community: Adult Basic Education, which serves English-speaking students, and English as a Second Language, which serves non-English speaking students.
Then in 2016, we began serving local elementary schools with our Youth Literacy program to help students who are not currently meeting N.C. literacy standards.
All our programs are free to students, including materials. We’re a tiny non-profit with only two paid staff members and a small budget but with huge aspirations. And we couldn’t do what we do without our incredibly generous and committed volunteers, or our grant funders- our biggest being the Rowan County United Way. Without their annual grant funding, we would not be able to keep our programs free, and we wouldn’t be able to expand our Youth Literacy programs to multiple schools this upcoming school year.
Many of us take literacy for granted and don’t realize the lasting impact illiteracy has on a community. From increasing healthcare costs to a high crime rate, our small organization is doing what we can do raise literacy rates and lower the negative effects here in Rowan County. If you are approached to support the Rowan County United Way, rest assured that your contribution will be going towards programs that truly make a difference.
Thank you for your continued support of the Rowan County Literacy Council and United Way.
K.C. Scott is executive director of the Rowan County Literacy Council.