Writing job applications. Following street signs for directions. Reading instructions. These seemingly simple tasks are quite difficult for the 25,000 Durhamites who are classified as functionally illiterate. For those who can't read, life becomes challenging and tiring.
Even more saddening is that their kids are also likely to grow up illiterate. Without the proper resources, parents who can't read are more likely to raise children with deficient reading skills.
This is where the Durham, Raleigh and Hillsborough Rotary Clubs come in. Since early December, along with the East Durham Children's Initiative and the Durham Literacy Center, they've been raising books and money for children in order to promote literacy. By giving elementary school students the tools they need to become successful readers, these groups hope to eliminate illiteracy in future generations.
The Durham Rotary Club hopes to reach 45,000 donated books by April. Right now, the rotary clubs are about halfway to that goal. They've received tons of classic children's books, but the most needed books include ABC books, 123 counting books, color books, types of holiday books, fairytales, folktales, children’s stories and multicultural picture books in the fiction category, and country, science, technology, language, weather, music, mythology, Hispanic heritage and sports books and biographies in the nonfiction category. Once they reach their goal, they'll distribute them to Durham Public Schools and nonprofits.
You can fight illiteracy by donating new or used books at one of several locations, including the Durham Literacy Center, 501 Realty, Self-Help and several buildings on Duke University's campus. You can find a full list of partners here. Those who don't have any books to spare but still want to contribute can do so at the Books on Hand website. There, you can purchase books on a wishlist, including the much needed primer books, directly for the charity or donate money to their cause.
Malcolm X once said, "People don't realize how a man's whole life can be changed by one book." Think of the lives 45,000 books could change.