A child born into poverty in Charlotte has less than a five percent chance of rising out of it in his or her lifetime, as referenced in the Leading on Opportunity 2017 report. Promising Pages, in partnership with the Junior League of Charlotte, Inc. (JLC), is working to improve upward mobility for underserved children by instilling a love of reading. According to Promising Pages, children who can’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
Promising Pages collects new and gently used children’s books and distributes them to children with few, if any, books at home. Since 2012, the organization has collected 350,000+ books and redistributed them to more than 43,000 children. The program distributes books through more than 30 social service partners.
Additionally, Promising Pages promotes reading through Magic Book Parties for kindergarten through third graders and Books on Break, a free program that provides books for students to enjoy when school is out of session.
Promising Pages was founded in 2011 by League member Kristina Cruise. Volunteers emphasize to children the importance of reading on a daily basis, which helps build imagination and self-esteem. At every event, they tell students, “Reading will help you be smart, successful and do anything you want in the world!”
Rebecca Box, Vice Chair of Promising Pages for the League, has been involved with the program for two years. She said, “I was initially interested in the placement because I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. I had been thinking of going for a leadership position in the League previously, but decided to go for it with Promising Pages after a GMM where we learned that Charlotte is last in upward mobility for the top 50 major metropolitan areas in the country.”
Rebecca enjoys being in a community facing placement. She said, “I’ve also enjoyed processing all the donating books. We’ve seen so many books that clearly have a story to tell outside of the author’s words. For example, last year we came across a Bible that had a loving message written in the front cover. How did that Bible end up at Promising Pages? What happened to the couple? I’ll never know (and it’s really none of my business), but the possibilities are endless.”
Written by Sarah Wetenhall