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COOS BAY, OR – “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr. Seuss.

Reading is fundamental. It develops the brains of young children, provides a window into the world around them and helps them do better in all school subjects.

Yet, 800 million people around the world cannot read or write. And many families (and some schools) have no books for children to read.

With the idea of encouraging a love of reading, the Rotary Clubs and school districts of North Bend, Coos Bay, Reedsport, Bandon, Coquille, Myrtle Point and Powers, along with South Coast Education Service District (ESD), and Southwestern Oregon Community College are partnering to help children on the South Coast get excited about books with the Gift of Literacy Program.

Modeled after the Springfield Gift of Literacy, this well-established, time-tested, award-winning program fosters a love of reading among young children. Through a multi-club Rotary District Grant matched by local clubs, every first-grader (over 600) in each of the club’s coastal communities are participating in this enriching six-month literacy program.

The Gift of Literacy Program will culminate in a festive celebration on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, at Southwestern Oregon Community College, when first-graders from the South Coast will be transported by bus to the College to attend an assembly and receive a cinch bag filled with fun swag … and two brand-new books!

The five selected books, chosen by Coos County librarians and educators, are a wonderful and diverse mix. Each first-grade classroom received a set of the books in November. Teachers or guest readers read the books in the classroom. And on April 26th, each first-grade student will come to campus for a literacy program that includes receiving two books for them to take home.

The importance and enjoyment of reading will be reinforced with the acquisition of a library card. First-graders will also be introduced to a college campus, where they can get a glimpse of college life.

“All Rotarians are committed to promoting literacy, both in the United States and abroad,” said Southwestern President and local Rotarian Dr. Patty M. Scott, who helped organize the event. “We are proud to celebrate and promote literacy for our local first-grade students!”

The Rotary Clubs, ESD and the College would like to give a special thanks to Yellow Cab and First Community Credit Union for their generous support of the Gift of Literacy Program.

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