Razorback Reads Program Helps Low Income Children

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- According to the University of Arkansas, several studies showed the incarceration rate of the future could be directly linked to literacy rates in students as young as third grade.

In hope of lowering those future numbers, the university teamed up with local schools in hope of encouraging kids to read more.

Another statistic showed low-income neighborhoods average one book for every 300 children.

In an effort to have more books in the community, the University of Arkansas created the “Razorback Reads” program.

The program encourages the public to donate money, or books, to give to students between kindergarten and third grade.

“Our school is about 94 percent poverty,” said Heather Cooper, the principal at Parson Hills Elementary School in Springdale.

Many of Cooper’s students will be able to take home 10 books following Razorback Reads. The school is one of six that were selected for the donations from Razorback Reads.

“The majority of our students do not have rich reading materials in the home environment,” Cooper said.

The university said, for $6, a new book can be purchased for a student.

Organizers at the university said the low prices of new books will give students at the schools a chance at a brighter future.

“Third grade reading scores are critical for children,” said Angela Oxford, director at the Center for Community Engagement. “That is where you go from learning to read, to reading to learn.”

The university said they hope to donate more than 25,000 books to students at the schools.

“I think it is an investment. [Donors] are making an investment in the lives of children,” Oxford said.

The University of Arkansas said 14 percent of the state of Arkansas is illiterate.

Some students at the university said they wanted to improve those numbers in the future, so they decided to get involved.

“10 books is not a lot for most of us. But, it could make a huge difference in the lives of these children,” said Hilary Zedlitz, a senior at the University of Arkansas. “So, being able to be a part of [Razorback Reads] has just been an incredible experience.”

The Razorback Read program will be accepting donations at the Auburn vs. Arkansas game on Oct. 24.

The rest of the details for the drive can be found here.