Communities around the nation are making plans for USA Weekend’s annual Make a Difference Day. This event held on the fourth Saturday of October stared in 1992 and is now the largest community service day in the nation. Last year, 3 million people participated.
Getting started is pretty simple. Figure out what the need is and make a plan to do something about it.
This year, all school systems in North Carolina have been asked to participate, by developing a way for members of the public to become involved with their local public schools. In Wake County (NC), the School Board is tackling literacy and asking community members to make Early Literacy Kit that will be filled with items that parents and children can use at home to help promote early literacy skills. The goal is to collect 5,000 kids that can be disturbed by elementary schools to students who are in need.
Providing literacy kits to families is just one of the ideas that can help make a difference in boosting reading achievement. The long term impact of these kits may be realized at graduation day. According to the Nation Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), there are ten million American children who have difficulties learning. Of those, 10-15% eventually drop out of school, and only 2% complete a four-year college program.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress found that 37 percent of U.S. fourth graders fail to achieve basic levels of reading achievement. The incidence of reading failure is even higher within low-income families, ethnic minority groups, and English-language learners. Large-scale studies have shown that young children—those entering kindergarten and first grade—vary greatly in their attainment of the early precursor skills that provide the launching pad for later literacy learning.
Calling this a literacy crisis, Parenting Magazine reports that “Too few books and too little time are adding up to a disaster for some of the nation's youngest learners.” Partnering with Target, Parenting magazine is holding Mom Congress events that celebrate childhood literacy. Called “Read, Connect, Grow,” these events feature leaders in education who will offer tips that will help nurture a child’s love of reading. Plan to attend an event near you or go online to make a pledge.
As the NC Mom Congress delegate, I plan to attend the October 21 event in New York City. My favorite reading tip is to take the books outside, under a tree, on the porch, or by the sea – reading is one the most fun things that can be done anywhere.
How will you make a difference this year?
Liza Weidle is the NC Mom Congress delegate and author of "Truth about Parenting: Navigating the Elementary Years."