Resident brings reading program to children

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 21, 2002

A Suffolk woman saw a need for children in the area to be introduced to a new reading program and to improve on their reading skills because, she said, reading is an open door to success. So she helped to initiate a program called &uot;Read and Rise&uot; into the Suffolk area.

Dorothy Chapman is an outreach specialist with the Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc. in Norfolk. The group is also serving as a model for promoting the campaign for African-American Achievement. In December 2001, that organization announced a partnership with Scholastic Inc. to help build the reading skills of black children through grassroots community efforts. Scholastic, a global children’s media and publishing company, and the National Urban League, created &uot;Read and Rise&uot; that carries a campaign slogan, &uot;Preparing Our Children for a Lifetime of Success.&uot; According to Chapman, this campaign features a guide to foster children’s literacy and reading skills and the program itself features practical tips on how parents and caregivers can help their children become successful readers.

&uot;Reading is knowledge and the more children read, the better they will be in school,&uot; said Chapman.

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Edith White is CEO and heads the program, and Lessie Bowser Wharton coordinates the program.

As an effort to promote &uot;Read and Rise,&uot; the Urban League of Hampton Roads (ULHR) has been awarded 5,000 books as a recipient of the National Urban League and Scholastic Book Grant Award.

White said that she wants to extend the &uot;Read and Rise&uot; program into Suffolk and is also trying to make Suffolk a key partner with the program. &uot;The reason for this is that we have so many resources.

We are all one community and can’t afford to let a small thing like geography keep our children from learning good reading skills and how to succeed,&uot; she said.

Children living in Cypress Manor section of Suffolk have already been taking advantage of &uot;Reading and Rise.&uot; They began reading books a few days before the summer break and are still reading at the present date. Some have read 10 books or more. The incentive that was given to read is a trip to the skating rink.

Chapman goes door to door, informs parents about the program and when she is going to be in the neighborhood with books to be picked up, which is usually every other day. She leaves a phone number with the parent or guardian where children can get in touch with her after a book is completed.

&uot;The child then has to write a paragraph about the book so that we will know that he or she has read the book and understood it. Underage children who read books but cannot write have to draw a picture for the same reason,&uot; she said.

Books included in this program serve children ranging from ages five to 14 such as &uot;Stuart Little,&uot; &uot;The Baby Sitter’s Club,: &uot;Peter Cottontail&uot; and &uot;A Dinosaur Named Sue.&uot;

Books are available and are free of charge to encourage reading. Youths can pick up books at &uot;The Urban League of Hampton Roads located at 840 Church St., Norfolk or any parent interested in receiving a book for their child may do so by filling out a Book Award certificate. Parents in Suffolk may also contact Dorothy Chapman at 397-1871 or 925-1158 to learn about other important benefits of this program.

Since the fall of 2001, about 12,000 books have been distributed to children in the Hampton Roads area.