Riders for Readers Starts Kids Rolling in the Right
The National Institute of Education report of
the Commission on Reading found that “The
single most important activity for building knowledge
required for eventual success in reading is reading
aloud to children.” Literacy is the foundation
for success in all academic disciplines and an
essential ingredient for effective participation
in responsible citizenship and community activities.
Brandermill Rotary Club of Midlothian, VA, has developed a unique community
partnership of motorcyclists, public schools, and not for profit organizations
which enables elementary school students to establish their personal home libraries,
increasing opportunities for children to read and for family members to read
Riders for Readers has involved Bellwood, Summer Hill, Ruffin Road and Whitcomb
Court Elementary Schools in the past year and is planning to conduct more events
this year at other locations in the Richmond area. In addition to Rotary Club
members, the events have been conducted with help from Communities in Schools
(the nation’s largest dropout prevention program operating in more than
2,500 schools across the country), Scholastic Literacy Partners, Youth Matters,
Richmond BMW Riders, Royal Enfield Bullet Owners Club, James River Vintage
Riders, Supreme Ladies, Boys II Men, Cobra I, Cycle Kings, Velocity Motorcycles
and the donations and participation of dozens of enthusiastic motorcyclists
and other supporters.
Research indicates a correlation between poverty and low academic achievement.
Students attending some elementary schools are at greater risk of not attaining
the academic success of their peers. In comparison to the average, some of
these schools serve three times as many single-parent families at or below
the poverty level and three times as many students eligible for free or reduced
cost lunches. In one-third of the families served, parents have less than a
high school education and are minimally involved in the educational process.
The response from the students, parents, teachers and administrators has been
dramatic. By using motorcycles as a delivery method, Riders for Readers creates
a more casual atmosphere for the students. While introducing the idea of reading
for fun, students are able to choose from hundreds of books. Selections include
Newbery Medal Award books, as well as science fiction, mysteries, hero biographies,
and sports books. Socializing with people outside their regular classroom and
family setting allows these young readers to give thoughtful and often entertaining
explanations for selecting certain books.
Funding for the first year of the program has come mainly from the Brandermill
Rotary Club and Velocity, with help from the Richmond BMW Riders and the G.
E. College Bound program. Additional funds have come from pocket change donated
throughout the year at Velocity Motorcycles which coordinates and hosts the
events and stores the books.
Participating riders and their passengers pay a ten dollar registration fee
which offsets the cost of an event T-shirt and two books. Spectators and other
supporters may buy shirts year round for fifteen dollars which pays for about
seven books each.
Riders for Readers is looking for individual and corporate sponsors in order
to involve more schools and bring books to more children this year. To learn
how you can help and how your company can sponsor a Riders for Readers event,
call Eric at 353-3456 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.