California teenager starts successful summer reading program for children

August 24, 2012

Claire Williams of Pleasanton, California started a summer program to promote literacy improvement among children due to educational budget cuts.

The 17 year-old high school student named her program, "Read to a Teen", which invites elementary school students to the local library once a week to read a book of their choice to a teenage volunteer. Williams had the idea when she was volunteering at the library for a program that has adults and teens read to children. Although the children were enjoying the program, she noticed that they were struggling to actually read themselves.

"The importance of reading on your own is that books are filled with facts, fun and food for thought," said Williams. "Reading enriches and educates you at the same time."

The program is now on it's second summer and has grown remarkably sparking interest from other nearby libraries. Every week, children are lining up to be a part of something wonderful.

"How is anyone supposed to get through life if they cannot read and practice reading?" said Williams. "Obviously our state doesn't have much money, and Pleasanton is a wealthy area, but ... the cuts still hit us."

Williams is not the only on in her family making great strides. Her older sister Sarah started the project, "Creative Kindness", which helped create 20,000 blankets for foster children. She was selected to carry the Olympic torch in England during the 2012 Summer Games.

Claire's first literacy project began years ago when she won a Gold Award in Girl Scouts by setting up a party for 160 foster care families and providing books and school supplies to take home as souvenirs. At 17, she has created a successful and growing program helping children learn to read.

What's next for this remarkable teen? Only time will tell.

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