Care Helps U.S. Children with Book Package to Boost Reading

Article excerpt

CARE, the American charity that has helped children in war-torn countries for 50 years, is turning its attention to problems at home by encouraging youngsters to read.

A CARE pilot program, the agency's first domestic effort, is under way in four elementary schools in poor neighborhoods. The organization is sending books home and urging parents and children to read them together.

"We thought it was time to look homeward," said Jon Moor, a CARE spokesman.

In some inner-city schools, a large majority of children enter kindergarten without any appreciation of books, said Arthur Steller, deputy superintendent of Boston schools.

"We can teach the reading skills in classrooms," Steller said, "but it's the parents at home, reading with children and having the children read to them that cements those skills and the appreciation for reading."

CARE delivered packages of 10 books to kindergarteners and first-graders in February. The youngsters were asked to review the books and check off a box with a smiling face for a good review, a sad face for a poor one.

"I think I'm going to give them a smiley face," said 5-year-old Kayla Williams, a student at the Mary Lyons school.

Kayla's mother, Deborah, said her daughter always had loved books, but she was surprised by her enthusiasm for the CARE package, a brightly colored box containing books, a poster proclaiming a love for reading and information about the program for parents. …