A child with a book can go far in life.
Milwaukee’s Next Door Foundation works hard to make sure every kid has a book to call their own, and TMJ4 and the Scripps Howard Foundation are trying to help during our “If You Give a Child a Book” Campaign.
When youngsters come into the library at Next Door, you can tell how excited they are. For them, reading is a joy.
But Tonya Hameister, Next Door’s Director of Educational Services, says reading is also a tool.
“We absolutely believe that literacy is our foundation of everything that we do,” she says.
Without strong reading skills, kids will struggle with other subjects.
“So if we are actually engaging in a science lesson, we have children’s literature in that classroom around science,” Hameister says.
Unfortunately the pandemic threw a wrench into Next Door’s good works.
“Literacy in general, we believe, is going to be impacted,” Hameister says. “Access is a huge issue, access to consistent literacy lessons.”
Which is part of the reason Next Door started its Accelerator program, to help kids get caught back up, no matter how far behind they may have fallen.
Accelerators like Arious Walton work with one or two students at a time.
“I come into the classroom and they’re ready to show me their work and what they did yesterday or that they did at home,” Walton says. “It’s like you just get them into the flow and they just love it.”
It’s never too early to get your child reading. Studies conducted by the National Center for Educational Research show that kids who are read to three or four times per week are twice as likely to recognize all the letters of the alphabet than children who are read to less.
Walton says reading is also a good bonding experience.
“Having the program where you can take a book home every month and have books to read, with your parents, with your siblings, it’s just an amazing opportunity.”
Milwaukee’s Next Door Foundation is just one of the wonderful people in our area supporting childhood literacy, but you can help too.
Every dollar you give during the “If You Give a Child a Book Campaign will support the work Next Door does. Head over to TMJ4.com/books or text 345345 to receive a link to our donation page.