Myra Simon began reading to her 3-year-old son, Dahvion, before he was born.

She and her husband, Danny, were determined their child would not be one among the statistics showing Detroit children read well below grade level.

She even made her baby shower a book shower.

And this week she’ll join hundreds of other parents and children at a Reading at the Rodeo fun fair, presented by the 4-H Club’s Ready, Set, Grow! Youth Program.

It’s one of 50 programs citywide aimed at promoting literacy through the citywide initiative called Hope Starts Here.

Among the goals of Hope Starts Here is improving the reading levels of Detroit’s children, from birth to age eight.

Program leaders contend that improving the future of children helps improve  the future of Detroit.

“Literacy programs for children as early as age five or even younger are ideal. Young children watch what we do, so if we show them books and read to them, it will be easier for them to catch on as they grow,” said Carla Thomas, who directs the 4-H Club’s Ready Set Grow! Youth program.

Simon said she believes reading early on to her child helped his development.

She said she could feel him reacting to the Bible passages as she read to him in vitro.

In addition to reading, they surrounded him with books, flashcards and other reading materials.

Once he was born, friends told her that Dahvion’s attention to books and ability to recognize shapes and words showed that he was advanced.

“He wants to sit down with books and was also learning from YouTube videos but I want him to have hands-on activities as well,” she said.

She began taking him to the reading room  the St. Suzanne Cody Rouge Community Resource Center, located at 19321 Chicago on the city’s west side.

And she plans to make her home a Hope Starts Here household—part of a citywide campaign that pushes early learning and encouragement in families throughout Detroit.

“I want my son to be a part of the things here in Detroit – to grow up here and then raise his own family here,” she said.

Simon plans to take her son, and five of her friends with children his age, to the Community Center’s Reading at the Rodeo event being organized by Thomas.

The family-friendly event will be held in the teaching garden and will feature a cowboy and a storyteller to demonstrate to children the process of visualizing stories and bringing them alive.

“We want to take empty lots all around the city and create spaces where children can visualize stories,” Thomas said. “We have all these ‘Little Libraries,’ so we need programming and activities to support reading. We want children to tell us about the books they are reading.”

To learn more about Ready Set Grow! visit its website at

 Ready Set Grow! 4-H Club

Carla Thomas  313-578-1095

 St. Suzanne Cody Rouge Community Resource Center 19321 W. Chicago Detroit, MI 48228

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