Meet The Mom On A One-Woman Mission To Beat The 'Summer Slide'
She's literally bringing the library to families in low-income neighborhoods who are struggling to keep their kids' reading skills sharp.
Typically, the summer months are a time for students to relax and enjoy some time off from school. But in the time of the coronavirus, there's a lot more to be concerned about than spending too much time in the sun.
A single mom in Cleveland, OH has been spending her summer passing out free children's books to help prevent what she calls the "Corona summer slide," and no, the term doesn't refer to a new attraction at the local playground.
The "summer slide" refers to the concern that students lose critical knowledge they gained during the school year, when school isn't in session during the summer.
"[Students] were out of school for the [coronavirus] pandemic and then summer," Chrishawndra Matthews told Good Morning America. "We're going to have a bigger pandemic in September when these babies go back to school."
Matthews has been handing out books to families in need in her community. @literacy_in_the_hood
Matthews is the founder of the non-profit "Literacy in the H.O.O.D," which stands for "helping out our disenfranchised." For the past two years, Matthews has spent her own time and money handing out free books to families in the Cleveland area to encourage literacy in struggling communities.
Here's Matthews talking about the mission of her organization, Literacy in the H.O.O.D...
Matthews was inspired when she struggled to find books and educational assistance for her now 9-year-old son Derrick when he was having some trouble learning to read. She recalls having to travel to the suburbs to find the resources she needed.
"We have the library and something they call story time, but here the librarian is dealing with behavior for three-quarters of story time and there's the condition of the library," Matthews said. "If I drive just a few lights up the road and take him to a suburban library or a county library, we went from just going to the library to having an experience."
Along with holding book drives and speaking at city council meetings about the importance of increasing literacy rates in the inner-city, Matthews often stops families she sees on the street to make sure they have the appropriate reading materials to keep their kids learning.
During the pandemic Matthews collected unused books and made sure neighborhood lending libraries were sanitized and well-stocked.
"Even though other places closed during the pandemic, we were able to still hand out books," Matthews said. "We are going in some areas that other people are not really going to go and they're not really thinking about and they're probably scared of."
Matthews and her 9-year-old son Derrick have been keeping lending libraries sanitized and stocked during the pandemic. @literacy_in_the_hood
Luckily, Matthews has Derrick to help her with her efforts to keep her neighbors' bookshelves stocked.
"Derrick is in the car, he's reading and I know he got his 20 minutes in," she said. "If parents can find 15 to 20 minutes, it will make such a difference in their child's life. Especially over the summer, it will be such a difference."
Matthews is hoping to buy a van/delivery truck so that she can get books to more communities that need them. @literacy_in_the_hood