Chrishawndra Matthews of Cleveland, Ohio, has always known her 9-year-old son, Derrick, is smart. The only problem is that he needs better resources to expand his knowledge.
“Derrick started reading at three and there were no resources to strengthen his reading in the inner-city,” Chrishawndra told GMA. “I’d find myself driving to the suburbs to find literacy and reading programs that would be adequate for a 3-year-old.”
The single mom knew Derrick wasn’t the only child at a disadvantage. So she made it her mission to keep every kid in Cleveland reading.
Chrishawndra has seen for herself the obvious difference between inner-city and suburban libraries. She compares the two as ” just going to the library to having an experience.” That’s why she began buying and collecting donated books to give to families through her non-profit, Literacy in the H.O.O.D.
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The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped her efforts; Chrishawndra began showing up at school lunch pickup locations to distribute the books as well. She also brings them to parks and recreation centers, eager to prevent what she calls the “Corona Summer Slide,” or learning loss that children experience over the summer. So far, she’s handed out more than 16,000 books. And she has no plans to slow down.
“So many times when you get something for free you have to go through so many hoops to get it. I try to take away all the hoops,” she said. “I’ve literally just been showing up [with books].”
Derrick has enjoyed helping his mom so much that he started his own organization called Boys Do Read. Chrishawndra hopes to spread her son’s love of reading to as many children as possible, especially those who don’t have books at home.
She also hopes to inspire parents to read with their children at least 15 minutes per day.
“If parents can find 15 to 20 minutes, it will make such a difference in their child’s life,” she said. “Especially over the summer, it will be such a difference.”
What a great idea for raising literacy rates! Books are such a wonderful way to spark imagination and creativity in children and adults alike. You can help Chrishawndra stop the corona summer slide by donating here.
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