Read With Me club seeks to increase Georgia literacy rates


Elyssa Abbott

Senior and club president Madeline Toombs reads a book to the children at Baker Elementary School. She hopes to grow the club and encourages other students to attend and meet these children. “I love socializing with all of the different personalities of the kids and experiencing a completely different generation,” Toombs said.

Elyssa Abbott, Reporter, Photographer

Georgia’s literacy rate shows that nearly 1.5 million adults in Georgia do not have the ability to read or write. Shockingly, 65 percent of 3rd graders in Georgia lack necessary vocabulary and reading comprehension skills, showing that the trend starts from an early age. These disturbing numbers show a scarier underbelly because literacy rate directly impacts the unemployment rate and leads to long-term implications in life, such as poverty.

NC Magnet senior Madeline Toombs created a program tied to National Honor Society called Read With Me. With several other students, Toombs visits Baker Elementary School each Monday from 4:00 to 4:30 p.m. During the half hour, NC students read to the children at Baker Elementary and practice vocabulary skills. Each week, 10 to 15 NC students spend time with the elementary schoolers, but the program hopes to expand their numbers to help more children with their reading comprehension.

“I really want to hand it off to someone next year, and I would love to have announcements about it so more people will come. It would be cool to have consistent transportation so that students will not have to drive themselves. This could also make the program easier to attend,” Toombs said.

Elyssa Abbott
Seniors Julia Snyder and Lauren Reagan pick their favorite books to show to the children. “Read With Me is a great experience because of how excited and enthusiastic the kids are to read,” senior Tess Thompson said.

The idea for Read With Me came to Toombs when she started trying to reach the Gold Award for Girl Scouts, which involves solving a community issue, such as the dangerously low literacy rates for children in Georgia. Toombs approached Honors Chemistry teacher and National Honor Society (NHS) sponsor Nena Tippens about NHS students reading to kids at Baker, but the program remains open for all students at NC to participate.

Toombs and the other students love interacting with the children at Baker and experiencing a group of younger children. She hopes that the program will aid the children in their reading and vocabulary skills. More importantly, she desires to create passionate readers that truly want to pick up a book and read.

“I have noticed that with the introduction of tablets and phones, kids do not really read as much anymore. They spend their time on YouTube and Netflix, instead. Kids just do not read often, which leads to low literacy,” Toombs said.

With this program, the students at NC can earn community service hours and a sense of satisfaction from helping children. To participate, any student at NC, not just those in NHS, can show up at Baker Elementary School on Mondays at 4:00 p.m. and read to the children.