By Brooklyn Reader

August 20, 2014, 1:10 pm

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Little Sun People Day Campers take part in the Youth Literacy Volunteer Project

Little Sun People Day Campers take part in the Youth Volunteer Literacy Development Project

“Literacy prevents violence,” said Betty Davis, a retired educator and Crown Heights resident. “What it boils down to is, most people who commit violence have no hope. Reading develops a person inside so that they have a vision of themselves as something other than hopeless.”

Betty Davis, Education Committee Coordinator and  Co-founder of The Youth Volunteer Literacy Development Project

Betty Davis, Education Committee Coordinator and Co-founder of The Youth Volunteer Literacy Development Project

Davis, who has a master’s degree in library science and has worked for many years as a principal in the New York city public schools, said that underlying concept—that literacy prevents violence—is the reason why, when Bed-Stuy resident Arlena Adams, approached Community Board 8 with the idea to form a youth literacy program, immediately, she was on board.

CB 8, where Davis is co-chair on the Education Committee with Kwasi Mensah, already had been in discussion about how to deal with the drastically decreasing enrollment of students of color in the city’s specialized high schools.

“All of us agreed this was a big problem and that it was time the community have an intervention before these kids get to school,” said Davis.

Together, Davis, Adams and Mensah helped form the Youth Volunteer Literacy Development Project, an intergenerational reading project that pairs teens with preschool-aged children to encourage reading in the home.

The teens volunteer to hold reading circles—a way to encourage them to become active contributors to their community as they carve out their own roles in life while also engage children early in the love of books.

“Anytime you have a child come out of the 12th grade and they’re only reading at a third-grade level, that is an act of violence. Because by the time a child fails the third-grade reading test, the prison begins to designate prison seats for them.”

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3 Responses

  1. Tammy Hall

    Thank you for the coverage of the literacy project. I only have one correction. The story I told called “The Boy Who Turned Into a Cat” was a folktale from South Africa. Thanks.

    Reply
  2. Brooklyn Reader

    Hi Tammy, I will make that correction! That would explain your South African accent during the telling! 🙂

    Reply

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