Welcome to our blog series all about shining a spotlight on the incredible ways that parents are using their voices to build a better, brighter future for local kids in partnership with United Way for Greater Austin. Make sure you catch up on our previous installments to meet some truly inspiring parents!
Growing up in Austin, Kimberly McCarver loved to read. As a mother of two young kids, ages four and six, Kimberly wants to instill the same love of reading into her daughter and son, which is why she joined the Greater Austin Reading Coalition (GARC).
In addition to being on our Parent Advisory Committee, Kimberly is also the co-founder of Noir Creators Space, a vendor market and it’s specifically focused on BIPOC business owners, and skin care company Le Noir Sugar.
See what Kimberly had to say about ways parents can get involved in their community and find time to read with their kids!
How did you get involved in Greater Austin Reading Coalition?
I feel like as parents or as guardians, it’s our duty to put forth the effort that we want to see change for our children. I’m not one of those people that likes to complain and not be a part of the solution.
We can’t ask for change and not be active in doing what we need to do to make the change happen. Just as much as Austin has changed, this is still home and any and everything I can do to make home more welcoming for people of color, I’m gonna do my part to do it. So once I saw [GARC] I was like, “Oh this is right up my alley.” I was already trying to figure out ways to disrupt adultification, so why not disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline?
I love that GARC is so welcoming to new ideas, and working with other companies and other partners and things of that nature. So if you’re a parent and you just need a space for that, definitely take a look at it. Sowing that seed and pouring it into our children, it makes a big difference.
Why do you think it’s important for children to be reading on grade level?
Growing up, I loved reading. Reading takes you places that you probably wouldn’t necessarily physically go to. But it also is something that every child deserves to experience. Knowing that the Black and Brown babies are the ones that are hit with the [grade-level reading disparity] the most, being a part of the Austin community my whole life, I felt like I needed to be in this space, to make sure [to] speak up for those that can’t speak for themselves.
And also because I’ve been an auntie longer than I’ve been a mom, so I’ve watched my nieces and nephews go through some struggles and I felt like a space like GARC was so necessary.
What books do you and your kids enjoy reading?
I loved Dr. Seuss, Sweet Valley High, The Babysitter’s Club, Goosebumps, and The ABCs of Black Culture. My son likes anything with trucks. My daughter is reading a series of books by Little Legend and they talk about different prominent figures in history and the one she’s currently reading is about women. So she’s been learning about Frida Kahlo. She loves anything about history, which she gets from her dear old mom!
How can parents find time to read to their kids?
I don’t always physically get a book and open it to read to my children. One of the things that we created in our GARC group is guilt-free reading, where we may not be reading a book to our children, but if we’re riding down the street on our way home from school or whatnot, and we see signs or billboards, we’ll say “Hey, what does that word say or what does that word spell or mean to you?” And the children are still engaged and still reading and it’s still time together.
So give yourself slack because working and taking care of a family is difficult. Find little places to read where you may not physically have a book.
Thank you to Kimberly McCarver and all of our parent leaders for sharing your lived experience and voice! You are providing invaluable feedback and guidance that continues to ensure that United Way’s work is responsive to the real-time needs of local children and families.
The Greater Austin Reading Coalition’s Parent Advisory Committee is a group of local parents who are providing input and guidance in the development of the coalition’s strategic plan, as well as sharing resources with other parents and caregivers. To learn more about the Parent Advisory Committee contact Ileya Grosman, Greater Austin Reading Coalition Consultant, at Ileya.Grosman@uwatx.org.
Sign up for our Greater Austin Reading Coalition newsletter to stay connected on our work, advocacy opportunities, and invitations to community meetings and events.
Learn more about our work to get kids reading on grade level by the fourth grade.
You can make a difference and help us get more books into the hands of young readers–donate today and support our mission to fight poverty.