In recent studies of young readers it was found that nearly one in four students with a below basic reading skill in third grade had not graduated by age 19. The first three years of schooling are critical in learning the skills to tackle advanced curricula. According to the statistics, 93 million adults read at or below the basic level needed to contribute successfully in society. Even though these statistics are depressing, the V&E Foundation is hoping to change this.
V&E Enterprises is dedicated to promoting literacy as well as helping independent authors who are just starting out. They have been key in aiding budding authors learn about pitches, publishing and formatting services as well as making sure the proper support is rendered. Valerie and Earle Gardner created the enterprises as a way to meet the needs of local authors. The foundation was a logical step after meeting different teachers and authors.
One particular story that resonated with Valerie and Earle was personal to them. As a youngster Earle was considered a poor reader and he absolutely hated when the books he was given showed his reading trouble. "I wasn't the only one. Other children were singled out and are still feeling singled out. We want to try and make them feel happy and comfortable reading books with their peers. It is surprising how they come out of their shell when they are included." Earle stated. His wife Valerie ran the booth at the Snake River Renaissance Faire, while Earle was helping David Belt give history on ancient weapons. Valerie had an experience last year which pushed her to get working on the foundation. Valerie was telling stories about the fantasy books she had written. The children were captivated by her explanations of taking an idea and transforming it into books. "There were the same children coming back over and over again. One child talked their mother into getting one of the books. The mother told us her child had a lot of books but would not read them. As the event went on we watched the child sitting and reading every chance they could and even had their siblings sitting so they could read to them. A few weeks later we were at another event and the same family was there and the mother bought the second book in the series, which the child promptly began reading. The mother told us that the child had been reading so they had to get the next book. At the next event the same family showed up and bought the final two books in the series. We later found out that the child had developed a love of reading!" Valerie explained. Listening to them speak about wanting to improve a child's love of reading, one cannot help but be inspired. The V&E Foundation was finally created by Valerie and Earle Gardner, and C. David Belt. After figuring out what was needed for becoming a not-for-profit entity, they officially opened in February of this year. They have traveled to five Western states spreading the word to different authors and educators.
One of the hardest things that teachers see is students struggling with reading and not knowing how to help them. Some teachers see students struggling more because they are at a lower reading level; the child feels like they are singled out when they cannot read at the same level. V&E Foundation found the best way to encourage struggling readers is providing books that fit age, gender and ability as well as letting them keep the books. The visiting authors and publishers can get the children excited about reading. The students are then excited to share their thoughts about the book with others in the classroom. This provides a safe space for students to learn and read, as well as bolstering their skills, without singling them out.
They are still looking for authors and donations to help improve the lives of children. They hope at one point to have authors travel around to schools in their area and provide discussions on education and inspiring children to read more. Check out the website at www.ve-enterprises.com/v-e-foundation to learn more.