Too Few Take Advantage of Free Literacy Program

We met Mary Seratt on a Friday afternoon. She was busy pulling out charts and putting books on display. As part of the "Every Child Ready to Read" class the public library hosts each week, Seratt shows parents what Reading can do for their kids. "We've know intuitively that it was a good thing to read to little children," said Seratt, "but now we finally have the research to back it up."

A scan of two brains shows a child that has been read to and given attention has more brain activity than a child that is almost ignored.

"Rhythmically reciting poetry or reading anything that you're reading even while you're pregnant, there's some evidence that the child can respond, and understands the tones if not the exact words."

Great information that can really give children a head start. But the class Friday, March 17 was canceled because no one showed up. Seratt says parents don't usually take the class, "not as many as we would like.  We've got room almost every time we offer a session."

It's a source of frustration for Seratt who struggles to improve the literacy rate in Memphis. "We've got families in Memphis that don't have books. Here we are sitting in a library owning millions of books that people can take home for free. There's really no excuse not to have a book in your house."

Seratt will continue to set up the "Every Child Ready to Read" class once a week and hope that more people will come.

There is a class scheduled Saturday, April 1, April 8 and April 22. Each one runs from 11am to 1pm at the Central Library on Poplar Avenue. It's recommended that you call ahead but it's not required.

There are similar programs at other library branches across Memphis and Shelby County so that you can take part no matter where you live. For information call 415-2700.