Looking toward the future and achievements of the past year were addressed Thursday evening at the annual Author Dinner hosted by the Kosciusko Literacy Services.
Cindy Cates, executive director, stated with a national grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, KLS will host The Big Read next spring.
“Fahrenheit 451” will be the book selection. The book focuses on censorship and book burning to promote “sameness” of people. KLS will host panel discussions on censorship, book discussions, essay contest, art contests and graphic novel contests. Additionally Sam Weller, a Bradbury biographer, will lecture on Bradbury’s life.
“Even if this genre is not your favorite, you will love learning about Bradberry — who at 14 would take scripts to celebrities as they were leaving the Brown Derby restaurant,” said Cates. She stated Bradbury was scared by the howling of the dogs in the “Hounds of the Baskervilles,” a movie based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Book. The hounds inspired the mechanical dog in “Fahrenheit 451.”
Cates provided statistics of KLS’s achievements over the past year. She stated from 2009 to 2014, the 15 percent improvement of the Free and Reduced Lunch Program children passing the third-grade Language Arts portion of ISTEP showed a 96 percent correlation rate to the percentage of children who were enrolled in Read to Grow Children’s Book Club.
She stated in collaboration with Warsaw Adult Education and WorkOne, 61 adults earned a Indiana High School Equivalency Diploma and eight completed the requirements for a Workplace Certification. Warsaw Adult Education had 216 adults improve their education skills and at the Kosciusko County Jail, 23 inmates eared a Indiana High School Equivalency Diploma.
Other statistics show 743 children from low-income homes received monthly book selections in the Read To Grow Children’s Book Club and parents of those children read a combined 10,800 hours.
“These statistics translate to people and families improving their lives here in Kosciusko County,” said Cates. “But also illustrates breaking the cycle of poverty and illiteracy.”
Cates stated United Way has notified KLS it will no long fund the Read To Grow Children’s Book Club beyond the next funding cycle. “I am determined to see this program continue so children living in low-income homes have a better chance at success in school.”
She added many of the graduates of this program are reading above grade level. Without the program, these children had only a 5 percent chance of mastering all reading skills.
Cates stressed the best way to ensure these children enter school on the same level as their peers is to grow the KLS endowment at the Kosciusko Community Foundation. Individuals were encouraged to participate in a sealed bid auction, where an endowment for KLS could be named, however the minimum is $5,000. But, Cates noted any financial donation would help ensure the success continues for at risk children.