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If You Give a Child a Book, you change the world

23ABC and the Scripps Howard Fund are working to bring Kern County libraries, schools, and children books to help grow their love of reading and make the future a brighter place.
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Posted at 9:04 PM, Sep 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-08 00:15:11-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Many children in low-income neighborhoods lack access to the books they need to become competent readers. That's why the Scripps Howard Fund's Give a Child a Book Campaign is returning to help address that concern. The campaign is a long-standing program with the goal of empowering schools and children to be able to love reading, and 23ABC, with the help of the Kern Literacy Council, is bringing it to Kern County once again.

By making literacy accessible across the county, various communities benefit from it. Ian Anderson, the executive director of the Kern Literacy Council, says the program focuses on Title 1, lower-income schools where kids may not have access to brand-new books.

"Creating that love for literacy at an early age, especially 0 to 5, is paramount for children to be successful in their academic careers," said Anderson. "Kids who are not reading and engaging at that age, the likelihood of them not graduating from college, being involved in the criminal justice system is very high."

Children who lack access to a variety of books spend far less time reading, resulting in lower reading proficiency, and are more likely to struggle to compete in higher education. Anderson says data from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) shows that Kern County is lagging in literacy rates, currently 10 percent lower than they were in 2019, before the pandemic.

"It's important to get kids back on track for many reasons. Kids weren't in school, teachers were adjusting, there were a lot of reasons for it," said Anderson. "As for correcting this now, this type of program is not 'You're assigned to read this in class.' The child gets to pick the book themselves. There's a lot of autonomy in that."

Melina Hernandez, the assistant program coordinator for the Kern Literacy Council, says she's noted that word pronunciation and literacy are the biggest trials she's seen in children since the lockdowns. She says that she wants to enhance children's understanding of and perspectives on literacy.

"Being able to improve shows who you are as a person and realize, no matter what you struggle with in your literacy background, whatever it is you went through in your education," said Hernandez. "Honestly, it's really important."

Giving children books can take them to new places, plant the seeds of future success, and help break the cycle of illiteracy. The annual If You Give a Child a Book Campaign puts books into children's hands. If you'd like to help 23ABC and the Scripps Howard Fund put more books into the hands of more children, head to our homepage at and click the Give a Child a Book link at the top of the page to learn more.

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