Several schools and public entities took advantage of the birthday of author Dr. Seuss and national Read Across America Week to help encourage and promote literacy among children. Robstown ISD held events at most of it's schools to establish the importance of the ability to read and read well. Students took part in several activities that encouraged them to use the literacy skills that they've learned as well as pushing them to continue to be improve their understanding of the written word.
Calallen ISD participated in Read Across America week by also having theme days that allowed younger students to be creative with some of the clothes that they were allowed to wear to school that week. Calallen East Primary School took the opportunity to host the Scholastic Book Fair for the students. Before, during and right after school, students made their way into the library to purchase books that were available. Several students took advantage with some of them buying multiple books. The book fair was possible in due to the participation of some of the student's parents who volunteered their time to help run the book fair and serve the students. Another way the Calallen school district encouraged literacy was by having high school students go and read to younger students.
The United Way of the Coastal Bend also contributed time and volunteers to the efforts of promoting literacy by also having volunteers going out and reading to younger Corpus Christi area children. Some of the volunteers included Mayor Nelda Martinez, Nueces County Fire Chief Robert Rocha, Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Alan Wilson, local attorney Ann Hennis, architect George Clower and several other volunteers who took time out of their schedules to give back and help promote literacy in Corpus Christi children. This was the first year of participation by volunteers from the United Way. According to Communications Director Andrea Souflee, the United Way of the Coastal Bend plans to grow the program next year to include a larger area and more students reached. The event was scheduled for the birthday of Dr Seuss who was born Theodore Seuss Geisel and wrote several beloved classics for children.
Children are not the only ones that are affected by illiteracy. The Corpus Christi Literacy Council is a non-profit organization that has tasked itself with lowering illiteracy rates in Nueces County by teaching adults how to read. Dr. Mary Gleason is the Executive Director of the Literacy Council whose mission statement, “...is to identify, develop, promote and coordinate comprehensive programs and resources that will measurably reduce functional illiteracy in the Corpus Christi Bay Area.” Through the different programs that they offer, adults who either have trouble reading or are unable to read and write english are encouraged to come and learn to read better. The goal of teaching parents to read has a twofold benefit in that they will be able to attain better employment opportunities and they will be able to read to their own children who will have an increased vocabulary as a result. This will also help to drive down the illiteracy rate in Nueces County that currently stands at just two points below the statewide average of 19 percent. However, since the classes at the Literacy Council are on a voluntary basis for the students, it can become difficult to truly gauge the results since the adult students are not required to see the program through to the end. “Everybody improves something. Adults aren't forced to come and sometimes they stop coming because of work conflicts or other life events happen,” said Dr. Gleason.
Another reason that Dr. Gleason and the rest of the council encourages literacy is because of the direct impact to health and economics. “There is a high correlation between low literacy rates, poor health and low income. Generally when people are unable to read it affects their understanding of directions on medicine containers and also the opportunities available to them in the work place,” said Dr. Gleason.
The illiteracy rates for the surrounding counties are as follows:
Nueces County-17% Jim Wells County-27% Kleberg County-23% San Patricio County-20% Brooks County-36% Duval County-31% Bee County-21% Live Oak County-17% “The people who come in are functionally intelligent, they have other skills that they do well they just didn't learn to read well. They are like swiss cheese in that they have other areas of knowledge, but they don't have the knowledge they need to be literate,” said Dr. Gleason.
For more information on Corpus Christi Literacy Council please call (361)826-7086, go by the Ben F. McDonald Library at 4044 Greenwood Drive in Corpus Christi, or visit their website at ccliteracy.org. To get in touch with the United Way of the Coastal Bend, visit their website at www.uwcb.org, call them at (361)882-2529 or visit their office at 711 N. Carancahua Street in Corpus Christi.