July 29, 2021. Our program featured Judie Dickerson who is the head of the Easton Chapter of Cops ‘n’ Kids. The organization’s roots date to 1997 and the efforts of a police officer to bring reading to the children in Racine, Wisconsin. A $100,000 gift from Oprah Winfrey allowed the group to open the first of what would become 50 reading rooms located in the USA, South Africa, Venezuela, and the Philippines.
The Easton reading room opened in 2011 at the Easton Area Community Center. They recently opened a second room at the Sigal Museum. To date the Easton chapter has distributed 111,000 books and served 36,000 children. Their mission is connecting kids and community through literacy. They want to ensure that every child has access in their home to books and the knowledge and inspiration to believe in themselves. They want to encourage positive relationships between children and the police.
The reading rooms are designed to provide a welcoming space for children and families to read together. The children are allowed to take home five books per visit at no charge. The importance of reading cannot be understated. Literacy is one of the predictors of a child’s future success. The PSSA exam scores for 3rd graders are used to project the amount of prison space that will be needed in ten years. People with low literacy skills are more likely to have earnings that are at or below poverty level. They are more likely to engage in criminal and anti-social behavior.
The program relies on volunteers including police officers, teachers, high school and college students, community organizations, and businesspeople. The volunteers put books in the hearts and hands of children.