Local nonprofit works to get as many kids as possible to read - 8 News NOW

Local nonprofit works to get as many kids as possible to read

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LAS VEGAS -- A southern Nevada literacy group is on a mission to get as many kids as possible to read.

They say children who read perform better in school, but getting access to books isn't always easy for every family. There are children who don't have books at home because their families cannot afford it.

For the last 13 years, a local nonprofit has stepped up to fill this gap, and it says its efforts are paying off.

On Wednesday, the gym at Vegas Verdes Elementary School was filled with cheers and smiles as about 500 students received their free books.

It is all part of a community effort spearheaded by Spread the Word Nevada, a nonprofit that partners with local businesses to raise funds to provide books for local students.

"If you can't read, you can't learn. It is the basis for everything," executive director and co-founder Lisa Habighorst said.

Since 2001, Habighorst and her team have adopted 30 schools in Clark County. Aside from giving kids books throughout the school year, they also provide free mentoring for struggling readers.

This program has since boosted reading scores for local students by nearly 25 percent and comprehension skills by nearly 50 percent.

The nonprofit now works with about 24,000 kids around the Las Vegas valley.

"Once we adopt a school, we are there forever and always," Habighorst said.

Vegas Verde Elementary Principal Alice Roybal Benson says her goal is to get her school from a two-star to a five-star school. She says extra resources are critical when she has families who can't afford to buy books for their kids to read at home.

"The generosity required to do this is super appreciated," Roybal Benson said.

"I have "Oliver Twist" and "Journey to the Center of the earth,"" fifth grader Milton Pedraza said.

"I don't read a lot about animals but this one I really like," fifth grader Jazlyn Valdez said.

It is this joy of reading that Spread the Word Nevada hopes to expand to even more schools come next year, and they hope local businesses will continue to support their cause.

Bank of America recently donated $200,000 to help this non-profit. Spread the Word Nevada is also looking for more mentors to work with students.

To volunteer or to donate used books, go to spreadthewordnevada.org

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