Reading with the Mayor

Four in five of the youths held in Jacksonville, Fla., detention centers are considered functionally illiterate. In hopes of curbing the dropout and crime rates...
by | October 17, 2007

Four in five of the youths held in Jacksonville, Fla., detention centers are considered functionally illiterate. In hopes of curbing the dropout and crime rates among juveniles, Mayor John Peyton launched a book club four years ago for all 4-year-old prekindergarteners in Duval County. The club is free and provides each participant a backpack filled with fun reading tools and books about life in Jacksonville. It tries to give kids a solid foundation in reading and is part of a broader literary campaign that is testing strategies in child-care centers to improve how children are prepared for school. Early research shows that children who participate function better with reading when kindergarten begins. The club is funded by the city, grants and donations. Organizers are expecting a larger enrollment this year with the introduction of online registration. Two other cities--Charleston, S.C. and Longmont, Colo.,--have implemented similar book clubs, and the National League of Cities calls such literacy programs a best practice. To learn more, visit Mayor Peyton's book club here.