SAN ANTONIO — H-E-B announced that it has launched an early childhood literacy initiative to help educate Texas parents and caregivers about the importance of reading to children a minimum of three times per week and to provide families with the tools and resources they need to prepare their early learners for school.
The H-E-B Read 3 campaign is the brainchild of H-E-B CEO and chairman Charles Butt who has a strong commitment to education. In Texas, almost one third of the state’s children entering the first grade are living in poverty while one in four Texas preschool children are not read to on a regular basis, according to the company.
“Research has shown a strong correlation between poverty and reading proficiency, decreased educational attainment and high school drop out rates,” said Kate Rogers, H-E-B VP communication and engagement. “Studies also show that children who are not reading by the end of first grade have more than an 80% chance of never becoming a proficient reader. The early years are so critical to the development of vocabulary and language skills.”
Rogers continued, “With the Read 3 program, we want to encourage parents to take an active role in ensuring that all children have an opportunity to begin their school experience with an equal opportunity to succeed.”
The Read 3 campaign begins with an in-store event scheduled for Sept. 7 through Sept. 20. During this two-week celebration, customers will find information and tools at their H-E-B store that will show them how to turn their shopping trip into a fun learning opportunity for their children. Activities for the children will include in-store scavenger hunts and activity pages, H-E-Buddy story times and the launch of the H-E-Buddy Book of the Month Club. Starting in September, H-E-Buddy will select a book each month. The chosen selection will be offered at H-E-B for 40 percent off its regular retail price. Children will be able to earn points and rewards for reading and participating in the book club.
H-E-B will also host a book drive with the aim of collecting one million books. The community will be encouraged to donate new or gently-used children’s books at their neighborhood H-E-B. The collected books will be sorted and distributed back into the community through donations to non-profit organizations. The collected books will also be distributed at H-E-B’s annual Feast of Sharing dinners to all children who attend the free holiday events.
In addition, H-E-B said it plans to open 10 literacy centers in 10 of its stores by fall 2011. Currently, the company has two literacy centers — one in Tomball, Texas and the other in Laredo. The in-store literacy centers feature age-appropriate tables and chairs, a stage and a children’s library section that invites parents and their children to take a break from shopping and enjoy reading a book together. The first new literacy center will open in San Antonio at the H-E-B Plus! located at 6818 South Zarzamora on October 7. Goosebumps’ author R.L. Stine will be on-hand for the grand opening to greet fans and read a special selection.