Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church is empowering children to become literate at a young age by launching its first walk-in reading room.
Last Sunday, Mayor Carrie Tergin helped celebrate the occasion by cutting the ribbon and reading aloud a book about Jefferson City.
On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, children ages 4-18 are welcome to come and read in the Atkins Literacy Room at Quinn Chapel where Pastor Cassandra Gould said they are fostering the love of reading.
"It's a small start, but we believe it will have a very big impact," Gould said. "The goal is to have a community where children are 100 percent literate."
The room is dedicated in honor of the deceased Dr. Carolyn Atkins, former Lincoln University professor and member of Quinn Chapel. Atkins was passionate about education and children in the community, Gould said.
Youth can choose from a variety of age-appropriate books, but Gould said their particular collection has a focus on African-American literature.
After listening to some of the stories told by parents at a recent town hall meeting, Gould said her team recognized not every child in the education system has the same start.
"Currently, there are not a lot of African-American teachers in the Jefferson City School District, and so part of why we have a focus on black literature, is because our children are not being exposed to it in the school system," Gould said. "We want to foster an appetite and desire for people to read but we also want to share black history, so that children have models and can see themselves in books."
Starting Nov. 1, parents can also sign youth up to read with a "Celebrity," who may vary from local councilmen, the mayor, LU professors and other community leaders and volunteers.
"Our church strives to have an impact in the community, and I think it's an additional way of ministering to people who do not make it to church on Sunday," Gould said. "We want the church to be a place young people know they're welcome."