DEAR ABBY: I am the father you mentioned who loved reading aloud to my children so much that I started Rolling Readers. It is now California's largest nonprofit children's literacy organization. We were proud to see the letter from Miss Mary Ann detailing her joy as a volunteer reading to her "story children" each week, and the satisfaction she receives when she gives them new books three times a year during our "book giveaways."
The response from Dear Abby readers across the United States and Canada has been unbelievable. We have received more than 10,000 calls and letters from people who wish to volunteer, and individuals and groups who are eager to start a local chapter of Rolling Readers in their communities. Already chapters are forming in St. Louis, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tampa, New York, Chicago, and dozens of smaller communities.
Reading aloud to youngsters is such a simple yet profound way to share our love of books and reading. Over the years we have been inspired by the quality of volunteers willing to spend an hour each week helping to create "reading and caring communities." They include socially conscious high school students, police detectives, judges, retirees and homemakers. They share our alarm that there is a crisis in our country.
For 30 years our society has grown increasingly less literate, with the biggest decline occurring in those needy children already struggling near the bottom. These Rolling Readers understand that this crisis needs to be solved in a typically American fashion -- individually, by thousands of concerned citizens willing to give of their time to make a difference in the lives of these children.
Abby, thank you for spreading this important message. We would also like to thank the thousands of your readers who have sent letters or called to volunteer. Together we are creating "reading and caring communities" across the country. After all, a love of children and a love of books go hand in hand. -- ROBERT CONDON, ROLLING READERS USA
DEAR MR. CONDON: I'm delighted that your worthwhile organization struck such a responsive chord with my readers. America's most precious resource is our children, and literacy is the first step in preparing them to lead productive lives. I wish you and your dedicated volunteers continued success in this important effort.