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One Oklahoma City mom’s response to low 3rd grade reading scores makes a difference

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Carmen Williams has always been one of those moms who encouraged her kids to read.

She works at a school in her east side Oklahoma City neighborhood.

Her four-year old Carlos Junior already knows his letters and is just now figuring out the sounds they make.

There was a time when she used to worry about the house being too quiet, that something was up.

Lately, she's been pleasantly surprised.

"Quiet moment. You look around and think, 'what are they doing'." she smiles. "Then I see them in a corner reading and think, 'Oh. Please continue'."

So what's the secret with the Williams kids?

Carmen gives a lot of credit to another mom, Gina Darby, who decided to fight low reading scores in her neighborhood by starting something called the Oklahoma Youth Literacy Program.

Darby says, "We didn't realize how bad it was until we got the test scores for the 3rd grade reading efficiency test put in place, I believe, in 2011. We saw the (failure) percentages were really high in this area so we decided to really push to have a summer program last year."

From the first week in June to the last week of July school age kids, including the Williams, signed up to come to the Avery Chapel basement.

Darby describes their day. "It'll be filled with some kind of educational aspect whether it's physical, emotional or just educational." They read, worked on math, and ate breakfast and lunch.

Carmen says her oldest Peyton started to read books out loud to Paige and Carlos this spring.

She thinks it might be something all three of them do to help deal with the loss of a family member.

"My 3 month old daughter passed from SIDS," she explains. "So it's a coping mechanism. I can just look around. I'll be washing dishes and the oldest will be reading to the other two."

Reading is the foundation for so many things. Its an introduction to other worlds, an education, and an escape too.

Once you start, it's a habit that's hard to put down.

This will we the second summer for the OK Youth Literacy Program.

To sign up or give to help fund the service go to http://www.okylpokc.org or call (405) 822-9900.

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