HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — Love — of reading — was in the air Saturday. One of the biggest Valentine’s gifts you can give a child? The ability to read well.

That’s the goal of Literacy, Inc., which hosted a Valentine’s Day read aloud in the Franklin Plaza Community Room in East Harlem.

Dozens of children under the age of five were given books to take home to read, or be read to.

“The importance of literacy starts even before the child is even born. When the child is in the mommy’s belly, you can read to them so they get used to the sound of your voice,”  Husniyah Hassan, LINC parent engagement manager, told PIX11 News. “It all starts when they are very young.”

Jenice Zayas, another LINC parent engagement manager, said an increase in technology is leading to children with poor communication and social skills; reading helps address that.

“This the the beginning of developing all of these skills. It’s top of the line. It’s very vital,” Zayas said.

The motto of LINC “when a child reads a community succeeds.” Volunteers took turns reading to a group of energetic children Saturday.

To the parents, the event was a good way to get children happy and ready to read.

“Reading keeps her focused,” Ana Velasquez said of her three-year-old daughter, Rylie.
Participant Chayce Suarez, 7, told PIX11 News what he wants to be when he grows up.

“I want to be a scientist and figure out a cure for coronavirus,” Suarez said, which he was reminded takes a lot of reading.

The next read aloud at the Franklin Plaza community room will be in April. For more information about the program, you can visit LINC’s website.