Join us on Women & Children First's Crowdcast Channel for a virtual reading celebrating Forever Free: A True Story of Hope in the Fight for Child Literacy by Tracy Swinton Bailey.
A memoir and a call to action, this intimate look at America’s long-standing struggle to adequately educate vulnerable children offers valuable insights for effecting change in families, communities, and nationwide.
At the root of every important problem we face, from mass incarceration to income inequality, is an education system influenced by our nation’s fraught history. Just as past generations fought to ensure that all Americans could enjoy the right to fully participate in our democracy, so must we rally tirelessly to advance an educational agenda that promotes equity and inclusion. With the gap between white academic achievement and that of students of color widening, now is the time to turn our attention to the basics, and few would argue with the fact that the single most essential aspect of a good education is literacy. Beyond reading and writing, literacy encompasses a whole host of skills that allow us to develop our potential and succeed in society, including critical thinking, self-discipline, curiosity, leadership, and motivation. Helping all our nation’s young people, especially those who live in low-income communities, improve their literacy skills should be a top priority.
Numerous programs are operating around the country to address the issue of underperformance in light of the shortcomings of our public school system. In Forever Free, Tracy Swinton Bailey charts the journey of one such program, her nonprofit Freedom Readers. From a childhood shaped by books to a career promoting the love of reading, she describes the hurdles and rewards of academia, teaching, mobilizing, and fundraising. Bailey outlines clearly and persuasively how Freedom Readers’ one-to-one tutoring model has worked in the rural South, and how it can work across the US. This book will inspire and empower readers, and should be placed in the hands of educators and organizers at every level.
Tracy Swinton Bailey earned a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Language and Literacy at the University of South Carolina in 2013. She began her career as a high school English instructor, and went on to found Freedom Readers, an after-school and summer literacy program that was designed and implemented to support families in low-income areas and assist children in achieving their academic goals in reading. She is married to award-winning writer, Issac J. Bailey, and is the mother of two children.