Living Columns & Blogs

Mid-State Literacy Council builds a strong foundation for kids

Adults who seek help from Mid-State Literacy Council have goals of obtaining employment, accessing health care and ensuring that their children grow up to be good readers.

The Mid-State Literacy Council is committed to providing instruction that addresses skill deficits and employment needs. Since the inception of Mid-State Literacy Council in 1971, more than 14,000 low literate community members have increased their reading, writing, math and English skills. Their new skills allowed them to gain employment, to access health care and to provide for their families.

Each year, more than 200 volunteers support our education programs. Additionally, our generous and thoughtful community supports our children’s book drive. Many children in Centre County don’t have books at home. Children who don’t read over the summer months lose reading skills, fall behind in school and can become adults shut away from employment. We give a redwood size thank you to Steve Neely and the staff at Barnes & Noble State College for leading our successful holiday book drive.

Thank you to all who contributed the 3,640 books that we are distributing to children in our community. A favorite quote from Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” encourages us, “So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

More books are coming from Grace Lutheran Church, Bellefonte Knights of Columbus and individuals. Children are thrilled to receive their new books where they gain knowledge, vocabulary and experiences.

New research by Dominic Massaro, professor emeritus at the University of California, concluded that although parents can build children’s vocabularies by talking with them, reading aloud to children has a larger impact. Picture books include words not normally used in conversation. Adults who are improving their reading skills at Mid-State Literacy Council can read to their children for the first time. Literacy is a gift given from one generation to the next. Literacy is important — air, water, food, shelter and literacy. Thank you to our volunteers, financial supporters and board of directors for being ambassadors for literacy.

We train community volunteer tutors to teach in classroom settings, small groups and one to one. Tutors include health literacy as they teach reading skills. A literacy council student who had learned about appendicitis later had severe symptoms. Because of her instruction at Mid-State Literacy Council, she knew to get medical help quickly. She had a successful operation.

Mid-State Literacy Council is supported by our community, no government funding. Our fundraiser, the 19th annual Ron and Mary Maxwell Community Spelling Bee on April 11, promises to be a fantastic event. For more information, visit

Amy T. Wilson is the executive director of Mid-State Literacy Council. She can be reached at 238-1809 or