READ for Houston supplies gently used books to fuel early love for reading in 3- to 5-year-olds
A local Houston teen continues to share his love of reading by donating approximately 6,000 books to students at Harris County Department of Education Head Start.
Sam Collins, a senior at Robert M. Beren Academy, has donated more than 20,000 books to HCDE Head Start in three years through his initiative called Read, Engage and Donate for Houston, or READ for Houston .The initiative connects those who want to give books to those who need books in an effort to boost literacy and promote a joy of reading.
Reading to young children promotes language acquisition and is linked with literacy development and later on with achievement in reading comprehension and overall success in school, according to childstats.gov. The percentage of young children read to three or more times per week by a family member is one indicator of how well young children are being prepared for school.
“Reading is one of the most important, yet overlooked activities today,” said Collins.
He started his nonprofit three years ago after hearing about the high rate of illiteracy in Houston.
“I want to encourage reading enthusiasm, where kids learn to enjoy reading and not just see it as a chore,” he said. “We are building the framework for these kids so they can go on to build happy and successful lives.”
HCDE Head Start Director Venetia Peacock underlines the importance of promoting reading at an early age while also recognizing Collin’s generosity.
“Children’s love for reading is cultivated early on,” said Peacock. “We are thankful for having this ongoing relationship with READ for Houston.”
Collins’ donated books are used in Head Start Readers, a pilot program at Pugh Head Start in northeast Houston headed by volunteers from Assistance League of Houston. The volunteers read to students during story time. Head Start students also receive READ for Houston books at the Family Health and Wellness Festival Oct. 19 and the holiday book distribution in December.
“Because of READ for Houston we have the resources to ensure that our reading programs are successful,” said Armando Rodriguez, HCDE Head Start community partnerships coordinator. “We are so grateful to READ for Houston for making books available to Head Start parents so that they can read to their children and build home libraries.”
About Harris County Department of Education’s Head Start Area I: Harris County Department of Education Head Start Area I serves families residing in east and northeast Harris County, providing 14 area centers for over 1,100 children and their families. Head Start is a federally funded program that prepares children ages 3-5 for school. It also supports and promotes strong families through parent participation and training. Low-income families and families of children with special needs benefit from services. For more information, call (713) 672-9343, www.hcde-texas.org.
About HCDE: Harris County Department of Education provides education services to the general public and 25 school districts throughout Harris County and beyond. Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers, Early Childhood Intervention and Head Start programs. We offer purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, records management, and school finance support. Since 1889, our services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public. Visit us at www.hcde-texas.org.