Hiram’s Edge Literacy Project (H.E.L.P.) is a non-profit foundation created to assist educators and parents with the monumental task of helping our children develop a love of reading and math. The project is targeted to underprivileged families, special needs students, and severely underfunded school systems. Our goal is to provide:
- Learning Software
- Tutoring Subsidies
- Live Online Coaching for students
- Mentoring for parents and teachers
Why do Young Readers need H.E.L.P?
What was the title of the last book you read? I make this inquiry any time I meet someone new. With older folks, born before 1984, it usually leads to a conversation about literature. When I pose the same question to younger people, the most common response is, “I don’t read.” As a writer, this deeply saddens me. As an American, it downright scares me. Our children don’t read. That’s a real problem.
Reading is a primary skill taught to children as early as pre-school and K1, but studies show that a declining number of our youth actually read by choice. A study conducted by Common Sense Media back in 2014, published by Time Magazine, shows that the number of seventeen year olds who “never” or “almost never” read for pleasure has tripled since 1984 – 27% non-readers, up from 9%.
The numbers get worse from there. In 1999, parents read to young children (2-7 years old) for typically 45 minutes a day. That average today is down to 30 minutes a day, a 33% drop off. This is no doubt a contributing factor to the paltry 19% of seventeen year olds reading for fun on a daily basis. Broken down, that means only one in five of our children are actually reading for the sake of reading.
Do your children love to read?
Children don’t read because they don’t like to read. That’s the real problem. I grew up with a deep love of the written word, often hiding under the sheets with a flashlight so I could finish that last chapter, the one where the hero was about to save the world and win the girl. My imagination brought these scenes to life for me.
Once your child is able to better understand what he or she is reading, the next step is to get them excited about the story. This is an area where teachers often fall short. That list of “required reading” creates an aversion to reading in a lot of young people. Some (not all) of the books on those lists are of very little interest to them.
If a child is pressured to eat food he doesn’t like, he won’t eat it when he’s grown. Children who are forced to read what they dislike will not mature to be avid readers as adults. As a parent, don’t be afraid to ask your children what their interests are, then buy them books on those subjects. You’ll be investing in their future.
Do your children see and hear you read?
My grandchildren, at some point in their development, have all played the “imitation game”. If you have kids, you’re familiar with this. The child follows you around and copies everything you do, even says everything you say. For some adults, it’s annoying. I love it. That emulation tells me that this child wants to be just like me.
This brings me to my next question, which is actually the same as the first question I asked today, “What was the title of the last book you read?” I’ll even add, “Did you read any of it while your child was in the room?” Setting a positive example is the single most important thing we can do for our children. You can do it. We can H.E.L.P.
Are Teachers Overwhelmed and Underfunded?
Public school districts that service students in minority and lower income communities are usually the most underfunded. Our teachers are consistently asked to do more and given less to do it with. Books have to be shared and technology is almost non-existent in these schools. Those who need it the most are getting the least.
There are a number of programs out there to help underprivileged children, but there are few that focus on underfunded teachers and parents. One of our goals here at H.E.L.P. is to improve the education level in our poorest school districts by providing more of the resources teachers need. Our children deserve our best effort.
Contributions of any amount are welcome. Please click the Paypal box below to donate.