White House Honors Local Reading Program
Jan. 22 - KGO (KGO) -- A Bay Area organization that helps young people was among several programs honored by the White House today. The Alameda County Library program called 'Write to Read' brings literacy to kids in juvenile hall. It was one of only 17 organizations given the award known as 'Coming Up Taller' that also came with a $10,000 dollar check.
"A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest Gaines is just one of the many books picked up by kids at the Alameda County Juvenile Hall. Here, 200-plus young men and women have a literacy program like none other. (Because they are under 18, we're not allowed to show their faces in the video of this report)
They attend classes like any other student, then they are free to read.
Sherry Drobner, 'Write to Read': "In this program, 100 percent of the kids are reading more than they were before."
The program is called 'Write to Read.' Hundreds of books are available and discussed. In many cases, the authors talk to the kids.
Sonia Osborne, Teacher: "It's exciting to know that this person cares enough about them to take the time to share directly with them."
This young girl said books have opened a new world for her, telling us, "Probably about four to five hours I spend reading."
Through reading, their writing improves dramatically. Here's what one young man wrote about his love for reading: "When I read it feeds my mind. I learn words that I have never heard before."
Sherry Drobner started the program in 1999. She says studies have shown that through reading kids make better choices.
Sherry Drobner: "We don't have a count of how many have made better choices, but we can tell you stories of kids who have."
One of them is Hannah Kefela. Today she's in college. This morning she accepted the 'Coming Up Taller' award on behalf of the program from First Lady Laura Bush.
Nicole Perales, Juvenile Institutional Officer: "It just shows them this isn't the end of the road, it's maybe a speed bump, slows them down, makes them aware of what's going on and just tells them to continue."
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