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United Way’s Day of Reading spreads love of books to kids
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Martinsville High School assistant football coach Nate Hairston reads a book to Tyasia Coles, a member of the Wee3’s at Clearview Elementary School, at the Maplewood Apartments on Friday. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

The United Way of Henry County and Martinsville held its fourth annual Day of Action — Day of Reading on Friday in partnership with United Ways across the country.

Day of Reading is a community-wide reading project to help promote the importance of early childhood education and, in particular, the importance of reading to children, according to a United Way news release.

“We are excited to once again hold our Day of Reading project and to get more people involved in early childhood education,” said Tiffani Underwood, executive director of the United Way of Henry County and Martinsville. “This project is a fun way to get people involved and really emphasizes the importance of reading to a child.”

The United Way partnered with local day care providers, summer programs, the library, Piedmont Arts, Children’s Medical Center and other groups across Martinsville and Henry County to coordinate the Day of Reading project.

More than 90 volunteers visited organizations throughout the day to read to more than 1,000 children. Also, each child received a free book to take home to encourage continued reading.

“Early reading skills are crucial for young children to be ready for school. Reading to children helps children learn how to read,” said Melanie McLarty, director of Smart Beginnings MHC, an Early Childhood Initiative at the United Way.

Reading books aloud every day with children not only builds language and pre-literacy skills, it exposes them to new ideas, builds their social skills and inspires them to have fun and become lifelong learners, the release said.

Statistics show that the most important predictor of on-time high school graduation and academic success is reading at grade-level by the end of third grade, the release stated.

Children who are not reading at grade–level by that time are more likely to drop out of high school or have academic failures, it added.

United Ways across the nation are working together to combat high school dropout rates.

“Our hope is that the volunteers will want to continue to read to children throughout the year and become even more engaged in our early childhood education efforts,” Underwood said.

For more information about the United Way, visit its website at or call 638-3946.


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