Freedom Readers Program works to close achievement gap

By Chandi Lowry - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH (WMBF) -  When former English teacher got fed up with the achievement gap growing between lower income students and others, she decided to take action.

Tracy Bailey created a literacy program called Freedom Readers.

One book at a time, volunteers for Freedom Readers are trying to close the achievement gap in Horry County by inviting kids from all backgrounds  to get them excited about learning.

Hannah Loudin said she couldn't imagine life *without* freedom readers.

The 8-year-old has a library full of books at her home that she can read anytime because of the program.

She said, "I've got lots of favorite books, I can't really name them all."

Bailey is the founder and executive director of Freedom Readers.

She explained during a series of 90 minute sessions held at either Darden Terrace or Huckabee Heights, the kids have snacks, read books, and then discuss them.

The children also get to develop their very own libraries.

Bailey commented. "It makes me very excited, it's very gratifying to see a child pick up a book and see their eyes light up when they find out that they can own that book and take it home with them."

According to a Time Magazine statistic, a child who reads on grade level by third grade is 85 percent more likely to graduate high school.

Bailey said Freedom Readers is all about empowering young minds.

"We want to instill a love of reading and empower them to do better in school, raise their test scores and just become life-long learners," said Bailey.

She claimed that's one way she's working to close the achievement gap creating a win win for children and the community.

Meanwhile Loudin said she'll be taking part in freedom readers for a very long time.. Because she knows the volunteers want to see her succeed.

The summer session for Freedom Readers starts next month.

If you want to get involved, you have to be 16 years old to be a volunteer.

For more information, visit

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