When Toure McCord attended elementary school in Toledo and then Atlanta, he had trouble with reading comprehension. By the time he reached sixth grade, he realized he needed to improve his skills if he wanted to keep up in school.
"My mom forced me to read out loud every day to her," 14-year-old Toure said. "After, I would tell her about what I read."
That not only improved his comprehension skills, it helped Toure realize his love for reading. This summer, Toure hopes to cultivate that love in other young males through his Books 4 Buddies campaign.
The effort, designed by Toure with assistance from his grandmother Laneta Goings, aims to collect new and gently used books for economically disadvantaged children, particularly boys.
"When boys stop reading around second or third grade, they become distracted and get in trouble," Ms. Goings of Toledo said. "The literacy rate reflects back on the violence going on in Toledo."
The program will be represented by Book Ambassadors, a group of male teens who will help gather, sort, and distribute the books the campaign receives.
Toure said the 10 teen ambassadors also will serve as role models for the children the campaign targets.
"Kids look up to other kids who are older than them but are not adults," said Toure, who will be a freshman at a Cincinnati high school this fall.
With a great deal of help from Ms. Goings, whom Toure is staying with for the summer, the collection has garnered support from the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Buckeye CableSystem, and Toledo Public Schools, plus other local organizations.
Library Director Clyde Scoles said the program benefits both the children it serves and the library that serves those children.
"I think it will enhance our literary effectiveness," he said. "It will enhance and promote reading to the youth of our community and reading is one of the library's important goals, so this further promotes our effectiveness."
Though the drive does not officially begin until Saturday, Toure said Books 4 Buddies has collected 333 books from The Norman and Louise Jones Foundation of Toledo.
"By the end of the summer, I hope we've donated or given out maybe 1,000 books," Toure said.
Saturday's campaign kickoff is to take place from noon to 6 p.m. at Westfield Franklin Park.
In addition to the collection, sorting, and distribution of books, the event will feature a puppet show and an appearance by children's speaker Dr. Nana Banana, who from 3 to 4 p.m. will put on her program, "Teaching Kids the Magical Power of Positive Thinking." Afterward, a live band, Danny Humbarger and his Buddies, will play until 6 p.m.
Some of the campaign highlights include a book collection at the 29th Northwest Ohio Rib-Off on Aug. 12 in Maumee and a book giveaway at the Main Library on Sept. 8.
"After the giveaway our goal is to invite them back to talk about what they picked and how they plan to keep on reading," Ms. Goings said. "We want there to be a pledge [from the kids] in place."
For more information about the program, call 1-866-944-1119.
Contact Mel Flanagan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6087.