Combating Illiteracy

Thursday, June 1st 2006, 10:19 am
By: News On 6

Reading, it is one of the biggest factors in determining school success. But Oklahoma kids continue to struggle with reading. 40 percent of Oklahoma fourth graders scored below the basic level on national reading tests last year.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims has more on what northeastern Oklahoma organizations are doing to turn those statistics around.

At first, Lynette Gonzalez seems like a quiet, shy little girl. But put a book in front of her, and the 8 year old comes alive. “An elephant has a long long nose."

Lynette's mother says her daughter wasn't always like this. She says for the first three years of her life, Lynette spoke only Spanish.

"So she has been struggling a little bit in school, but she has made tremendous strides." Barbara Belk is the executive director of the Creek County Literacy Center and they are helping kids and adults improve their reading skills.

Oklahoma continues to lag behind, 40 percent of fourth graders scored below the basic level on national reading tests last year. And almost 20 percent of Tulsa adults can't read the newspaper. “I think we've come along way. We have a tremendous road to travel but I think we are going to begin to see improvements.”

The News on 6 and our partners Volunteers of America and the Bank of Oklahoma are collecting books to help more Oklahoma kids fall in love with reading. Donations to the Caring for Kids Book By Book drive will end up in places like the Creek County Literacy Center. They often give books to kids who might not have them at home. And they say that can make all of the difference.

Maggie Jewell with Volunteers of America: "there's no describing what it’s like when a child receives their very own first book." Maggie says putting books in children's homes can help stop the cycle of illiteracy. “We really need to continue to work particularly with children to really instill a love for reading and hopefully they will become life long learners."

You can put books in the hands of children across Oklahoma through our Caring-For- Kids-Book-by-Book Campaign. The campaign kicked off Thursday.

Drop off new or gently used books at any Bank of Oklahoma location in the state. They will be distributed to literacy organizations across Oklahoma. Caring-for-Kids Book-by-Book continues throughout the month of June.