GREENE COLUMN: For kids, the book is in the mail
Promoting reading is always a good idea; making it happen is even better.
Putting books in the hands of young children is a sure way of instilling a lifelong love of reading.
Janet Segal and Patty Bennett-Uffelman did that through a national program called Begin With Books, a Charleston County affiliate of the international program Dolly Partonís Imagination Library.
They made sure children in local areas get access to one free book a month.
The women made a difference in the lives of rural children who often have limited access to books.
Diette Courrégé reported Sunday that their efforts have led to more than 4,300 books being delivered to about 500 children.
The retirees saw a need and opted to fill it at a time when they themselves could be curling up with good books.
Thanks to them and the communities that help raise the funds, children in rural areas from Edisto Island to McClellanville go to the mailbox monthly and pull out a new book.
Now, residents of Johns and Wadmalaw islands want in on the action. They are raising funds. And why not? A good thing is worth replicating.
'It promotes literacy'
Darlene Jackson, manager of the Johns Island Regional Library, is helping islanders with the effort. She thinks the program is a wonderful opportunity for kids to build a library at home. It's also a way to get more children to come to the library once reading becomes a habit.
She believes the best thing about the books program is that "it promotes literacy. We all want to improve reading."
Illiteracy is a big problem in Charleston County schools. Across the nation too. The school district made literacy its top priority last year after learning that 20 percent of its ninth-graders read on a fourth-grade level or worse.
While the books program is free to children, the community must help raise the money to make it happen.
Islanders want books
Tonya Brown of Johns Island is spearheading a team to raise awareness and cash for the islands' program. The team is targeting churches, businesses, civic organizations, schools and individuals. It must raise $34,000 for 525 children to receive books for two years.
Brown, who coordinates Kaleidoscope After-School Program for the three elementary schools on the islands, said the group wants to raise the money by Feb. 14.
A married mother of a 4-year-old and a 9-month-old, Brown said reading is paramount to learning. She encourages parents to read to their children at least 20 minutes each day. Her 4-year-old son loves reading so much he asks anyone who visits to read to him.
Brown's mantra to students in her after-school program: To be a leader, you must be a reader.
So for a hassle-free gift this holiday season, look no further. For $33, a child gets to go on a different adventure every month for a year. And you don't have to gift-wrap it.
Reach City Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555.