Gift of Literacy Program

A volunteer officer reads to first graders for the Gift of Literacy Program.

COOS BAY — Local school districts are partnering up with Southwestern Oregon Community College to get kids excited about the Gift of Literacy Program.

Roughly 800 million people around the world can’t read or write, while many families and even some schools have no books for children to read, said a press release from SWOCC.

To fix this problem, the local Rotary Clubs and school districts of North Bend, Coos Bay, Reedsport, Bandon, Coquille, Myrtle Point and Powers, as well as South Coast Education School District, are working with SWOCC on 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,” the release said. “Through a multi-club Rotary District Grant matched by local clubs, every first grader in each of the club’s coastal communities is participating in this enriching six-month literacy program.”

The program culminates April 24 at SWOCC where 700 first graders throughout the South Coast will arrive by bus to the campus. The students will attend an assembly and receive a swag bag that includes a brand new book.

“The six selected books, chosen by Coos County librarians and educators, are a wonderful and diverse mix,” the release said. “Each first grade classroom received a set of the books in November. Teachers or guest readers read the books in the classroom. Then each first grade student chose his or her favorite title among the six hardbound books, which is what they will receive at the April 24 (at the) Gift of Literacy celebration.”

Not only that, but students will also receive a library card and get introduced to the SWOCC campus to “get a glimpse of college life,” the release said.

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

For more information visit southcoastorgiftofliteracy.org.

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.