United Way introduces Raising Readers program

Group promotes literacy for area’s at-risk children

From Mirror staff reports

As a way to help improve children’s literacy skills, the United Way of Blair County is introducing a program to encourage caregivers to read to young children to better prepare them for school.

Through the Raising Read­ers program, the Uni­ted Way, in partnership with McQuaide Blasko Attorneys at Law, will host a book drive and distribution of books to low-income families throughout the county, according to a press release.

Studies have found that children who are read to for 20 minutes a day have the literacy skills to enter school and enjoy reading.

Nearly 40 percent of Blair County students are below proficient in their reading skills in the third grade, the release states, while close to 70 percent of children in the county under the age of 5 live with economically at-risk families.

United Way of Blair County said families living at or near the poverty line strug­gle to put food on the table,­ let alone purchase books to read to their children.

The book drive begins March 25 and runs until April 6. New and used books in good condition for children from birth to age 5 will be collected at these locations:

Altoona Area Public Library

ARC Federal Credit Union, both locations

Bellwood-Antis Public Library

Blair Regional YMCA

Claysburg Area Public Library

CNB Bank

CORE Physical Therapy

Domino’s Pizza, Tyrone

Garver Memorial YMCA

Greenbean Coffee House

Hollidaysburg Area Pub­lic Library

Kelly Wike, State Farm Insurance

Martinsburg Com­mu­nity Library

McQuaide Blasko Attor­neys at Law

Northern Blair County Recreation Center

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, Blair Center

Powerhouse Subs

Roaring Spring Com­mu­nity Library

The Arc of Blair County

The Clay Cup

Tyrone-Snyder Public Library

United Way of Blair County

United Way said it will collaborate with schools, grant recipient programs, local early childhood education centers and other community stakeholders who work with children from birth to age 5 to distribute the books collected.

Children will receive a free book to take home for their caregivers or parents to read to them, and there will be subsequent follow up with caregivers when a child receives another book.

Raising Readers is for all children in Blair County.

For more information about the program, contact United Way of Blair County at 317-5108 or visit www.unitedwayofblair