Nonprofits, East Texas libraries work to boost reading skills of children

Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 9:55 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 23, 2023 at 9:47 AM CST
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the reading skills of many children, local libraries and some nonprofit organizations nationwide are working to help remedy these shortcomings.

“If you think about it, the library may be the only place in any community where you’re not expected to spend money. I mean, everything at the library is free,” said Nacogdoches Public Library program coordinator, Emily Childress McCown.

McCown said story time is the library’s longest running program. Aimed at children 4 years old and younger, they can come sit down and enjoy McCown or any other volunteer reading a story aloud. “For some kids story time is sort of their first experience with a structured environment,”

McCown said it’s also a great time for children to socialize and learn how to express different emotions. “You know those years leading up to kindergarten especially its so important to start early.”

Other groups, such as Hindi’s Libraries which is supported in part by a benefactor in Henderson County

“Reading is the foundation to all other skills in the world,” said co-founder of Hindi’s Libraries, Leslie Gang.

Working alongside, David Kanarfogel, together the two founded the New York-based nonprofit to honor the memory of Kanarfogel’s late wife, Hindi Krinsky.

Gang said Krinsky was a beloved educator at a Long Island high school. What started as one small book donation in her memory on the campus Krinsky’s children attended, Gang said they collected over 500 books in two weeks.

They then worked on donating books to groups and individuals to bridge the literacy gap and provide access. Today, Hindi’s Libraries has collected over 400,000 books since 2019 and donating them worldwide, including 15 different recipients across Texas.

“I don’t know what I see more of, the need or the people who have these books. I think because it’s so equal it’s so amazing that we need to this.” According to Gang, a middle or high income community has approximately 30 books to one child. In a low income community, there are 300 children to one book.

“More than 61 percent of kids in the country in low income communities specifically have no books, it’s crazy!”