Chatham Reads

A new tradition at baby showers, in the past few years, has been to bring a book, instead of a card, as a  gift to the expecting parents. I LOVE this idea! It helps to build at-home libraries and supports the idea that reading begins in infancy.  As stated by Nonie K. Lesaux, Ph.D., “Becoming a strong reader begins at birth. The cornerstones of reading success – language, knowledge, and curiosity – should be cultivated from infancy, and in every setting.”

Reading builds the foundation of learning and success for the rest of your life. According to the Children’s Reading Foundation, “Through third grade, children are learning to read; after third grade, children read to learn.  Without a strong foundation in reading, children are left behind at the beginning of their education. They lag in every class, year after year because more than 85 percent of the curriculum is taught by reading. And by the end of third grade, 74 percent of struggling readers won’t ever catch up. In fact, one of the most important predictors of graduating from high school is reading proficiently by the end of third grade.”

Chatham Reads is a partnership led by the Chatham County Schools’ and the Chatham Education Foundation partnering with other local community organizations to bring awareness of literacy to the community. The mission of Chatham Reads is to foster community partnerships that are dedicated to ensuring that literacy and reading resources are accessible to all Chatham County residents. In July 2017, Chatham Reads was approved as a community partner with the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading.  Launched in 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.

Chatham Reads and the Chatham Education Foundation held a book drive in late 2020 to obtain previously loved books that we could gift to children in our most needed communities. And WOW, the residents of Briar Chapel, as well as other communities, definitely showed up to support the children in Chatham County! Since the book drive, over 5500 books have been distributed to over 10 community partners, which include, Telemon Head Start, YMCA, CORA and our little libraries, amongst others, and throughout some of the schools. 

Currently, in Chatham County, 61% of our 3rd graders read proficiently. If you look at our economically disadvantaged students, only 43% are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Our goal is to use literacy interventions and access to literacy resources to increase the percentage of students reading proficiently. 

Thank you for being part of our initiative! You are making a difference in the lives of students in our community! We can not make this significant impact without your help. Please visit or email for more information.

Article by: Jaime Detzi

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