Houstonians join with nation in effort to break classroom 'storytime' record

HOUSTON – Books were wide open and children gathered in circles in classrooms across the nation Monday as volunteers took over "storytime" in a joint effort to break a world record and raise awareness to the worldwide literacy crisis.

"Read Across the Globe," was a historic event organized by Points of Light, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, Volunteer Houston and Deloitte.

The initiative brought thousands of supervised volunteers into schools to read to classrooms for thirty minutes – all in a 24-hour period.

"We are forming partnerships with school districts and volunteer networks in the greater Houston area, across the U.S. and across the globe," says Neil Bush, Chairman, Points of Light. "By working across time zones and with hundreds of partners, we hope to read to the most children ever in a 24-hour period." 

Houston area schools joined in the attempt to spark the interests of kids in attendance.

Allorie Kemp is a Texas Southern University student and member of Sister 2 Sistah, a Houston-based organization for college girls who are working to overcome obstacles. 

Sister 2 Sistah believes in giving back, and Kemp jumped at the chance to read to students at Harmony Science Academy in southwest Houston.

"I had a great time reading to Ms. Rebecca Briscoe's second grade class today for 'Read Across The Globe.' To see 28 bright faces sitting so patiently as I read, 28 of our future leaders eyes focused in, wa amazing," Kemp said.  "I was even able to stick around for recess and grade some papers! Reading is very fundamental for the growth of our youth."

School districts participating in the effort included Houston ISD, Alief ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Galena Park ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Aldine ISD, Harmony Public Schools, The Village School and Kids ‘R' Kids.

Read Across the Globe wants to bring an end to the literacy crisis so that all members of our community have the ability to achieve success and maintain a healthy quality of life.

Statistics show an alarming number of Houstonians are being denied the ability to read, write, speak clearly and think critically. Sixty percent of Houston's children enter kindergarten without the reading-readiness skills expected upon arrival, and nearly 25 percent of third graders in Houston performed at an unsatisfactory level on the STAAR reading exam. Not only do youth struggle with illiteracy, but also adults, as one in five adults in Houston are considered functionally illiterate.

Low literacy levels have dire effects on communities in a variety of ways: increased  juvenile crime, incarceration, and school dropout rates, poorer overall health and higher healthcare costs, as well as increased dependency on government-subsidy programs for individuals and families without even the basic skills to earn a living wage.  All of these issues have higher tax implications. Without strong literacy skills, individuals simply can't reach their fullest potential in life, families can't thrive, and communities can't prosper.

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