Hundreds of corporate and community volunteers united to read with more than 3,500 local students on Wednesday, March 2, commemorating the 19th annual National Read Across America Day. The literacy awareness effort calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss. As a part of the Unite for Change community impact series presented by Texas Instruments, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas hosted the reading day in classrooms and afterschool programs across North Texas. The effort united volunteers from Texas Instruments, Celanese Corporation, Central Market/H-E-B and others from the community to share Dr. Seuss books with elementary students, promoting the joy and importance of reading.
“We know reading is fundamental to becoming a life-long learner,” said Julie Van Haren, Vice President, Communications and Business Digital Marketing, Texas Instruments. “Through reading, we’re able to connect with children and help them unlock their potential for success in school and in life. Time spent reading to young students is an investment in their futures and in our future workforce.”
At the event’s media site, Dallas Mavericks legend Rolando Blackman teamed up with volunteers and educators to serve up Green Eggs and Ham to young students. Wearing a red and white stovepipe hat, the four-time NBA All-Star joined local children’s author Michelle Staubach Grimes to prepare a green eggs and ham breakfast for students at Uplift Heights Preparatory School in Dallas. They also joined volunteers in reading the Dr. Seuss favorite and Grimes’ book Where is Pidge? aloud to students, championing childhood literacy.
In addition to Uplift Education sites, volunteers donning Dr. Seuss hats read at locations across North Texas including schools in Dallas ISD, Plano ISD, and Frisco ISD. Volunteers also read to children in preschool and after school programs operated by ChildCareGroup and Trinity River Mission.
“The importance of children’s early language and literacy development cannot be overstated,” said Susan Hoff, Chief Strategy, Impact and Operations Officer, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “Reading aloud, talking and singing to children from day one are the most effective ways to develop their vocabulary, stimulate their imaginations, and expand their understanding of the world.”
‘Change a Child’s Story’ is a complementary United Way effort to inspire the love of reading. Presented by Central Market/H-E-B, the digital campaign is raising money to provide books to thousands of local children who desperately need them. A $5 donation can put a book into the hands of a child who does not have one. The effort also encourages adults to pledge to read to children in their lives, while generating awareness about the critical role books play in a child’s education. Change a Child’s Story is supported by the nonprofit First Book and featured book sponsor Michelle Staubach Grimes. Salesforce.org will donate $1 for every like, follow or share via social media.
“Having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact on children’s education, and yet, in some of the lowest income neighborhoods, there is just ONE BOOK for every 300 children,” said Kyle Zimmer, President and CEO, First Book. “This is a problem we can solve.”
Without the necessary verbal, literacy and comprehension skills that reading provides during their early years, starting and staying behind in school can be the inevitable result. Sadly, two-thirds of America’s children living in poverty have no books at home, and the number of families living in poverty continues to rise. Given the 38 percent child poverty rate in Dallas, thousands of local children don’t own one single book and are not read to regularly. With help from corporate and community partners, United Way is working to help rewrite these children’s stories and give them the happily ever after they deserve.
With TI as the presenting sponsor, the Unite for Change community impact series consists of six area wide volunteer events focused on improving education, financial stability and health across North Texas. Unite for Change was created to engage many local corporate partners in meaningful volunteer projects over a six-month period. The projects will help reach United Way’s 10-year community goals: preparing at least 60 percent of all kids to graduate ready to succeed, moving 250,000 people out of poverty permanently, and improving health across the region.