Buffalo Rising

Research has shown that nearly 50 percent of children in Buffalo who start kindergarten are one or more years behind in reaching developmental benchmarks, putting them at risk of staying behind.  Those who struggle with learning often come from low-income families.  These children are at high risk of struggling in school, dropping out, having low literacy, and facing chronic unemployment later in life.  This cycle continues from generation to generation, perpetuating low literacy and poverty.
For the past three years, Read to Succeed Buffalo has been working to help better prepare children for kindergarten by promoting literacy and reading throughout the city.  On March 2, they will be participating in the National Education Association's (NEA) Read Across America event.  This event was developed in 1997 by a small group within the NEA. "Let's create a day to celebrate reading," said group members. "We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. Why don't we do something to get kids excited about reading? We'll call it 'NEA's Read Across America' and we'll celebrate it on Dr. Seuss's birthday."
This year, for the first time, Buffalo will be listed on the NEA's map as one of the host sites for "Read Across America."  Our city will be one of 110 locations throughout Western New York that will be reading to over 10,100 children.  Reading events will be taking place at schools and daycare locations throughout the city. 
According to event organizer Deborah Porter, 55 members of the community will be taking time out of their work day and appearing as "celebrity readers" at different schools.  "We have so many people involved that I ran out of sites to assign them to," Porter said.  "Our community is looking at this as 100 percent individual and 100 percent community involvement to support child reading."
There will be two showcase sites where photo opportunities will be available for those in attendance.  The first is the School #90 Dr. Charles R. Drew Science Magnet, located at 50 A Street.  The photos will be taking place here at 9:30 a.m.  The second school is School #53 at 329 Roehrer Avenue.  Mayor Byron Brown will be appearing as a guest reader at 2 p.m.
Each location will be putting its own spin on things.  One example Porter gave was St. Benedict School, located at 3980 Main Street.  Principal Molly Halady has organized a whole list of events throughout the day, with adult and student readers participating.  Halady is going the extra mile to get her students excited about reading by dressing up as the Cat in the Hat and baking cookies for all the children. 
The push to get community members involved in this year's event has certainly paid off.  According to Porter, the list of individuals who will be partaking in the event ranges from city and county court officials to newspaper editors, board of education members, college and university professors, and even grandparents.  "We have people from all walks of life," Porter said.  It makes it more exciting that they are taking it as a personal initiative to step up and get involved."
For more information about Read to Succeed Buffalo events, call (716) 843-8895 or visit www.readtosucceedbuffalo.org.