Monday marked the official launch of 23ABC’s annual, "If you give a child a book," campaign.The campaign is aimed towards strengthening family literacy in Kern County through book donations.
23ABC reporter Tori Cooper spoke to KERO employees who felt close to the cause as well as families in the community living in poverty, to learn more about the benefits and how it's impacting change.
Literacy is a skill that can take time to perfect, but for families in need like Nebriana Parker and her grandmother Marie Robinson it's a skill they are working on as a team, "We read a lot together and all of the books that I have two of, I give her one copy and then I use the other and I help her read," Mckee Middle School sixth grader Nebriana Parker said.
For Parker and her grandmother, this is all made possible through the Scripps Howard foundation, "If you give a child a book" campaign and it's partners at the Kern Literacy Council.
The partnership was able to bring more than 5,000 books to Kern County over the past two years alone. Every year 24 cities across the country with Scripps television stations including 23ABC in Bakersfield distribute new books to children just like Parker who are living in poverty, to help empower families to enhance their quality of life together through literacy.
23ABC and Kern Literacy are targeting the eight schools with the highest poverty rates in Kern County to help break the illiterate cycle early on, "We're at elementary schools because we want these kids to have as many books as possible and be reading as much as possible so that they have a chance to be on par at third grade," Executive Director of the Kern Literacy Council Laura Wolfe said.
Over the course of the school year Kern Literacy tutors work with an average of ten families at each school, "A lot of these parents were English as a Second Language (ESL) learners so they were trying to better their English so we would read, go over the book, go over new words and they could then take it home and read it with their children and their families," Program Coordinator for Kern Literacy Council Gabriela Gamboa said.
Showing families with English as a second language various ways to read and write together. The campaign also conducts community outreach with books in a number of different ways to ensure every child has a book at home, "We do the big assembly in January for national reading day, and then we do a lot of just packages where we give home libraries to families, or we just go to events like the recent back to school fair and hand out books at those," Wolfe said.
Over the past two years, over 100,000 new books have landed in hands of children just like Parker across the nation. According to Wolfe over 100,000 resident's in Kern County read below the ninth grade reading level. That's why every year Scripps Howard employees just like 23ABC’s Elaina Rusk also join in on the cause with the community to help fund books for those who need it most. "All of that money from our own paychecks goes into this huge pot the Scripps Howard Foundation then matches it to double it, up to $100,000 and that all goes into books that stays right here in the community," 23ABC Weather Forecaster Elaina Rusk said.
As for Parker she said the campaign is already making a difference for her and her family, "I think it's very great because I get to help someone that needs to read and write. So I feel very great that I'm helping someone."
If you would like to donate a book to a child in your community contact 23ABC News at: (661)637-2320