Reading as Therapy?

A recent column in the Nevada Appeal discussed the “toxic stress” that children living in poverty encounter and how being faced with these stresses on a daily basis affects the brain, learning, and behavior. I was particularly drawn to this article because it later went on to discuss that, in addition to necessary social programs, reading aloud to children can help to combat this physiology stress.


However, with kindles, audio books, and the internet a simple click away for a portion of the population, it can be easy to forget that books are not readily available to everyone and libraries, specifically in low-income communities, are in danger of going extinct. In an article on the Huffington Post by David M. Rader, he stated that in low-income Reading Stairs newneighborhoods the standard is one book for every three-hundred kids as opposed to middle and upper-class neighborhoods where there is an average of thirteen books for every child. This is startling, as studies have shown that simply having access to books and reading materials directly affects future employment opportunities, income, socioeconomic status, and long-term education.


Even though the article focused on Nevada social issues, it still rings true in many other US cities, including Chicago. This particularly sparked my interest as I thought of the Lost Boyz Inc Library Project, an initiative to create a library for children ages 4-18 on the city’s South Side.  With over 90% of the children served by Lost Boyz Inc’s programs coming from low-income families, they not only face the stress of limited resources but also the threat of violence, in a city that has already experienced 341 homicides since January.  Lost Boyz’s has already helped many children with their beneficial organized sports, mentorships, and educational programs — we hope that the creation of a library will provide these kids with a safe space to learn and grow.








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