Curtis Lewis has read to his son Deshaun since the child was in his mother's womb, but, until Thursday, neither he nor his 4-year-old had a library card.
They both signed up for cards at Collins Elementary's Family Literacy Center.
"We have a collection at home, but the library has a lot more books for us to read," Lewis said. "If my kids keep reading, I know they'll be more perceptive. I know I can get better, too."
Lewis and other parents were present for the first class offered at the center Thursday evening. The program seeks to advance the reading of children by getting their parents involved, said its founder, Dr. Paulette Harris, who serves as director of Augusta State University's Literacy Center. ASU and The 21st Century after-school program will sponsor the literacy, parenting and computer classes offered at Collins on Monday through Friday.
"One in four parents are in need of the resources we offer," Harris said. "It changes the whole family context for learning. It's a ripple effect."
About 100 people have signed up for the weekly classes, Harris said. There are also plans to open a literacy center at other local high schools and middle schools. Similar programs at East Augusta and Tubman middle schools were successful in increasing the reading levels of students and parents, Harris said.
ASU's Literacy Center now serves more than 1,000 adults and children each month. Harris said she hopes growing the literacy programs at Richmond County schools can expand the number of students who are performing at or above their grade level.
Jermika Collins said she realizes that improving her reading can encourage her son, a third-grader at Wheeless Road Elementary, to read more.
"I know I can improve and that's going (to) help him," she said.
Lewis said his hope is to read more and become more computer literate through the classes.
"Anything that can make me better is better for my family," he said. "Education is the key to life."