Salisbury residents host event promoting reading

Published 12:05 am Saturday, July 6, 2024

SALISBURY — Last weekend, more than 50 area residents gathered in Bell Tower Green for Salisbury’s first Silent Read-In.

During the event, participants read silently for 30 minutes in order to demonstrate the importance of literacy in society and create a movement to make Salisbury a city known for reading.

The event was the brainchild of Salisbury City Councilmember Anthony Smith.

Smith said the event was designed to, “build a community united by a passion for and a joy of reading.”

He hopes the event will not only foster a culture of reading, but also raise awareness about the literacy challenges facing the community, promote efforts to address them, and shed light on the underlying causes of low literacy.

Rowan County is slightly below the state average and national averages in literacy according to the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) which measures adults’ competencies in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving.

In attendance were readers of all ages enjoying a good book, including many parents and young children. One such parent was Najeema Bey, who as owner of a literacy center has a strong commitment to advancing literacy. Bey said, “Reading is a connection between me and my daughter and holds a special place in my heart because I teach kids every day. We need to change our literacy habits and create a reading lifestyle.”

Participants Jamie Wyant and Susan Carey, who moved to Salisbury a few months ago said the event was “comfortable and had no agenda, just a peaceful sharing time in a nice setting.”

Participants brought all sorts of books to the event, including titles on social justice, history, children’s board books and works of fiction. Executive Director of the Rowan County Literacy Council Laurel Harry chose a work by author Ron Rash, who was the speaker at this year’s Brady Author Symposium at Catawba College.

“Reading fiction has been proven to increase empathy,” Harry said. “The act of reading trains us to view a situation through someone’s else’s eyes. It helps us relate better to others and understand different perspectives.”

Smith plans to continue to schedule Silent Read-In events and work collaboratively to make Salisbury and Rowan County more literate. For information about future Silent Read-Ins, follow Salisbury Silent Reading Book Club on Facebook. For more information about volunteering to help others improve their literacy, contact the Rowan County Literacy Council at For more information about local, state, and national literacy data, go to