BALTIMORE — The impact of social media and video games has arguably deterred youth from focusing on traditional learning experiences. Fortunately, the Ben Carson Reading Project provides students opportunities to engage in imaginative thinking the old fashioned way by reading books.
Launched in 2000, the Ben Carson Reading Project was developed to support early grade literacy by promoting leisure reading as a key to unlocking a child’s full learning potential. Progressively growing over the years, the number of reading rooms has increased to a total of 118 sites in 16 different states across the country. To date, 66 percent of the reading rooms are largely at elementary schools located in lower income, inner city communities. In Baltimore City, there are 29 reading rooms located in area schools. A Ben Carson Reading Room opened at Tyler Heights Elementary School in Annapolis on December 13, 2013. The project was created through the Carson Scholars Fund, which also awards scholarships to students who have embraced high levels of academic excellence and community service.
Reading Room coordinator Tammy Blazenyak has witnessed countless testimonies of the positive result of having the reading rooms on site. She says, “Many times when we talk to young students we hear ‘I don’t like to read.’ In our experience, some students don’t like to read because they find the text too difficult or not of interest. Ben Carson Reading Rooms expose children to numerous books at varying reading levels. Frequently after the reading room opens, the same students will tell us how much they love to read. While all children enjoy visiting the Ben Carson Reading Room, reluctant and struggling readers benefit most from this literary source.”
Dr. Carson acknowledges that reading was very impactful throughout his childhood and was an activity, which was strongly encouraged by his mother at a young age. He also heavily credits reading as the catalyst for his success.
“Ben Carson Reading Rooms are a safe, enjoyable oasis for these students to engage in reading. I also believe this is a space for children’s imaginations to run free and they can be exactly who they are— children,” said Amy Warner, executive director for The Carson Scholar Fund who delights in the certainty of knowing that students can go the reading rooms to relax and enjoy quiet time while reading.
As co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, Dr. Carson’s wife Candy Carson shares his vision wholeheartedly and is very committed to the project as well. Without a doubt Dr. Caron’s vision has provided the gift of reading to children everywhere.
To learn more about the Carson Scholars Fund and other initiatives including the Ben Carson Reading Rooms, visit: http://carsonscholars.org/.