What better person to promote reading to young children than those who have written books themselves? This year, a number of local authors participated in Read Across America for Smart Beginnings Southwest Virginia. These authors will join scores of other volunteers who plan to read to young children throughout Southwest Virginia and will let children know that not only can you read a book but you can write a book.

Nationally, one out of five kindergartners [4 and 5 year olds] do not enter school ready to learn. Those students will be learning to read, while their peers are reading to learn. The outlook is even worse for disadvantaged students. A staggering 17% of kindergartners enter school in our region without being ready. “We are grateful for the volunteers that are taking time out of their busy lives to read to a child on Read Across America Day,” said Smart Beginnings Southwest Virginia Regional Director, Buckey Boone, “but all of us can be a part of the solution.” Like the other volunteers, these local authors will read a specially selected book, If You Give A Dog A Donut. Each child will be given a copy of the book, provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Bristol office, to take home to read with family members.

These authors and many other volunteers are joining with United Way of Southwest Virginia and Smart Beginnings Southwest Virginia to encourage reading at very young ages. You too can read out loud to your child, or grandchild, tonight. You can volunteer to read to kids in your local child care center, or elementary school. You can volunteer as a tutor or mentor, speak up at your local school board meeting, or donate books to your local library or after school program. To learn how to volunteer with Smart Beginnings of Southwest Virginia or with United Way of Southwest Virginia, visit our website at www.UnitedWaySWVA.org.