Rotary Club of Kingsport Receives Grant for Reading Program

Leigh Ann Hoover
The Rotary Club of Kingsport Downtown has received a $3,000 matching grant from the Rotary District grants committee for a Rotary Reading Program with the Literacy Council of Kingsport, Inc. The local Rotary Club of Kingsport Downtown, Literacy Council of Kingsport, through the United Way of Greater Kingsport, and Holston Medical Group Pediatrics matched the grant dollars.

Research shows that children lose reading skills during the summer vacation time.

“The purpose of the program is connecting children in the region to reading during the summer avoiding “summer slag” when skills can slip and students can fall behind in reading,” said Literacy Council of Kingsport, Inc. Executive Director Nada Weekley. “The Literacy Council of Kingsport will help organize reading events where Rotarians will read and distribute books to children. ”

Two reading events will occur in conjunction with Kid’s Central activities at Andrew Johnson Elementary School during Fun Fest. Local author Leigh Anne W. Hoover will be on hand for the reading events featuring her award-winning children’s book, “Festus and His Fun Fest Favorites,” which is about the festival. Both programs will be held at 1:00 p.m. in the school auditorium on Monday, July 15th and Tuesday, July 16th.

According to research, Kingsport City and Sullivan County schools have a “straight combined average of approximately 50% proficient/advanced on third grade reading scores.” Research also shows that children who are not on grade reading level in the third grade are the high school dropouts, which leads to low paying jobs, and increased crime rates and health care costs. The United Way of Greater Kingsport has launched the Early Grade Reading Community Impact Strategy to address this issue.

Tennessee’s READ20 Book Club, which wasfounded by Tennessee’s First Lady, Crissy Haslam, encourages families to set the fun goal of reading with their children for 20 minutes every day. Additionally, research also shows that literacy levels are directly tied to the amount of reading material in the home.

Awarded grant dollars will pay for hardback copies of “Festus and His Fun Fest Favorites” to be purchased at cost, and books will be distributed at no cost to event attendees. Holston Medical Group local pediatric and medical offices will also have copies to give to patients and for reading in the waiting rooms.