YReaders inspires love of books

Ingrid Snyder and her four grandchildren are book-reading machines.

"We have books in every room," Snyder, 63, said of their Mooresville home.

Snyder and her husband, Harry, 63, an instructor at NASCAR Technical Institute, have always emphasized reading with their grandchildren. They were granted permanent custody of the two boys and two girls in March 2009.

But credit for the book-reading craze in their household of late also goes to granddaughter Elecia Talley, 6.

She's devoured books and inspired her siblings to read more than ever since a teacher at Park View Elementary on West McNeely Avenue nominated her for YReaders.

The six-week literacy enrichment camp is run by Lowe's YMCA and other YMCA of Greater Charlotte branches each summer for children performing below grade level.

YReaders "is a program helping to do one of the toughest things, and that's closing the achievement gap and preventing summer reading loss, without losing summer," Park View Principal Mark Cottone said when I visited Ingrid Snyder and her grandchildren at the school recently. "The kids love it."

Lowe's YMCA raises money mostly through community donations to fund 28 children for the program. It's held each summer at Park View, South and Rocky River elementary schools in partnership with the Mooresville Graded School District.

YReaders costs $1,300 per child and is provided at no cost to the families.

Proceeds from Lowe's YMCA's Taste of the Lake event Sept. 17 will underwrite financial assistance and scholarships for YReaders and other Lowe's YMCA outreach programs. Elecia and the other children also received swimming lessons twice a week at Lowe's YMCA. Guests from Discovery Place and elsewhere showed up at the school with fun, educational programs.

YReaders culminated for the summer with a "celebration ceremony" at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in downtown Mooresville that included a snow-cone party in the courtyard outside.

Parents pledge to read each night at home with their children, just as the Snyders do with Elecia and her siblings, Michael Snyder, 7, Jason Snyder, 5, and MaKayla Talley, 4.

During summer, parents also attend a workshop to create literacy games to use with their children. During the school year, they attend two workshops about education at home.

Ingrid Snyder said she's seen the difference in Elecia, whose favorite books are "Goodnight Moon," "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."

"Her skill level has come up," Snyder said. "She has more confidence in reading, and her self-esteem has improved so much."