An Appetite for Reading

By Kerry Henderson

This is one in a series of stories about programs across North Carolina that provide children with books and reading practice outside the school setting.

Both of my parents worked in education; my mother worked as a school librarian for 30 years.  Even though my mother read quicker than I did, my appetite for reading was no less voracious.

Only a few years ago, I realized that many children do not share my hunger for reading. They don’t know how to read and do not have access to books. Their worlds are smaller; their imaginations, more limited; and their futures, less bright. That led me to volunteer with Read and Feed, a program in Wake County that aims for every child to develop an appetite for reading.

Taking to the Streets

Jan Frantz founded Read and Feed in 2007, inspired by a student with limited English language skills who hid underneath a desk to avoid Jan and the books she brought to share with him.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 11.46.59 AMFeed the Reader Road Show has become the signature program. An RV travels neighborhoods providing tutoring, nutritious meals, and free books throughout the school year and during summer sessions.  The program provides access to books and reading practice to the 50% of students who do not read on grade level in grades K-5. The goal is to keep the achievement gap in early grades from eventually lowering graduation rates and college enrollment.

Making a Difference

Read and Feed tracks its impact:

  • More than 16 Wake County Schools have partnered with Read and Feed.
  • Almost 11,000 hours of tutoring have been provided to more than 1,800 students.
  • Over 35,000 meals have been served.
  • Nearly 53,000 books have been distributed to at-risk children.

To find out more about Read and Feed, visit

Kerry Henderson volunteers with Read and Feed and serves as committee chairperson for public relations. Henderson has experienced firsthand the joy of sharing books and reading with the children served by this program.