By CYNTHIA CATES
Executive Director Kosciusko Literacy Services
WARSAW — Camila is a Read to Grow Children’s Book Club graduate who is now in kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary. Read to Grow is administered by Kosciusko Literacy Services and is a countywide program. Camila is doing very well in school having mastered colors, counting, numbers, and the alphabet. In fact, she is reading books as a kindergartener. In addition, Camila reads to her younger sister. Reading to her sister in English is very important because their mother does not speak English.
For her age level, Camila is fluent in English and Spanish. On average, at age 6, children from professional families have a 20,000-word vocabulary and children from low-income families have only a 3,000-word vocabulary. In addition, children from low-income families on average score 27 points below the mean reading levels. The gap between children from low and high-income families on reading comprehension scores is over 40 points. By serving low-income families, Kosciusko Literacy Services’ Read to Grow Children’s Book Club helps vulnerable children to be on equal footing with their peers.
Early literacy development is imperative to prevent adult illiteracy. The brain is forming language and literacy centers when a child is under five years old. Even with the expensive remediation efforts, children who lack early development will likely never be performing at grade level.
One of the students in the Kosciusko Literacy Services’ adult literacy class did not have early exposure to literacy. His caregivers never read to him as a child. He struggled academically and eventually dropped out of school. He held low paying jobs and was incarcerated for a part of his life. Unfortunately, his life story is repeated for many children who lack reading skills. The link between crime and low literacy skills is well documented. In fact, over 1 1/2 million people with the lowest levels of literacy are incarcerated. States that have decreased the high school dropout rate have also decreased the incarceration rates, saving money in reduced crime costs.
To increase literacy awareness and to support its programming, Kosciusko Literacy Services is hosting the 2019 Author Dinner How William Became Shakespeare on Thursday, Sept.19, at The Owl’s Nest in North Webster. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
The dinner raises much needed funds to provide literacy services. Tickets are $100 of which $65 is tax deductible as allowed by law. The last date for ticket sales is Sept. 13. For tickets or for information on sponsoring the event, call (574) 267-5380 or email [email protected]. More sponsors are necessary to make this event successful.
If you cannot attend the dinner, please support Kosciusko Literacy Services’ local efforts to improve literacy levels with a donation to Kosciusko Literacy Services by calling (574) 267-5380, mailing a donation to Kosciusko Literacy Services, 201 North Union Street, Warsaw, IN 46580, or visiting the website.
KLS is an IRS 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation and a United Way Agency, and donations are 100% tax deductible as allowed by law. Kosciusko Literacy Services is a prudent steward of the funding received from the individuals, corporations, and foundations.
The cycle of poverty and illiteracy needs to be broken. Education is the best defense against poverty and literacy is the foundation of all education. Literacy is the cornerstone of personal and societal freedom and liberty.