EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Instilling a love of reading early gives a child a head start on expanding their vocabulary, building confidence and, independence.

That’s why a local teacher makes sure her students get the books they need to excel in school. Research tells us that reading at a young age is tied to emotional, social and cognitive development for kids.

Once a teacher in Scranton discovered a way to get free books delivered to her underprivileged students, she jumped on the opportunity.

Thanks to her initiative, 23 students are improving their reading skills every day.

This is Ms. Kelly Guerra’s third-grade class at Frances Willard Elementary School in Scranton. Every day, Ms. Guerra hosts a Book Club.

“We read together every day in a small group, every child reads at the beginning of the year some children are afraid to read out loud, but now every child is anxious to read,” stated Guerra.

At the height of the pandemic in March of 2020, these students left first grade in the 3rd quarter of the school year and didn’t return to the classroom until they were in 3rd grade of 2021, leaving this group with a lot of catching up to do.

“The fact that right now these kids have read 8 books this year despite quarantining, despite covid, even a strike. Every day we’re reading chapter books in this classroom,” explained Guerra.

Those books come courtesy of Ms. Guerra’s Facebook friends through generous donations. For $9 dollar a month, anyone can sponsor a child in Ms. Guerra’s class through a payment made to the Scholastic Book Club. That small donation is making a big impact.

“With generous donations to my classroom, every kid gets a book a month and they are learning to love reading,” said Guerra.

Students such as Kinaicha Garcia and Danita Rodriguez say reading helps them relax.

“It makes me calm down whenever something bad is happening in my family whenever trouble is happening I just read a book and feel better about everything,” said Garcia.

“The good part about books is you keep reading them when you feel stressed out you can read a book, it all disappears,” Rodriguez.

That’s not all according to Evan Weinberger, CEO & CoFounder of Illuminos, an Academic and Tutoring Company says developing reading skills at a young age contributes to their success in many areas.

“You’re developing knowledge, it helps with vocabulary which is tied to writing, reasoning, listening, memory, focus, and even imagination, creativity, confidence, self-efficacy, independence,” stated Weinberger.

Experts advise parents to help their kids foster a love of reading by reading with them, visiting your local library, even starting an incentive program by using a sticker chart for positive reinforcement.