Bladen County Smart Start invites leaders to read to children

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — April may be famous for its showers that bring May flowers, but in Bladen County, it’s been raining books this month.

Smart Start of Bladen County recently launched Reading Across Bladen, what was intended to be a week-long focus on literature for young children. The organization invited and encouraged community leaders to visit local day care centers and spend time reading to children.

Taking Smart Start up on the offer were Althea Lesane Weaver, Apullette Hall, Prestelle Bryant, Arthur Bullock, Carol Strickland, and Rufus Lloyd, among others.

“Reading in day care did two things,” remarked Quessie Peterson, Bladen County Smart Start board member. “It emphasized reading, of course, but it also let board members and citizens get to experience with reading what the children and staff actually experience in daycare.”

She added, “Their interactions with children have been so positive it has inspired some of them to go in on their own. It was more than we ever expected, and it has been just precious to see the response.”

The effort has been so successful, in fact, that it was expanded to a full month. Peterson said not only do the children love it and ask the leaders to return, but the guests often end up staying much longer than anticipated.

The effort is just one of the activities undertaken by Smart Start to address a longstanding problem in the Mother County.

“We have some serious literacy problems in Bladen County,” Peterson remarked. “Unless we get people to help with these children at this age, we’re not going to make the gains we want to make.”

Peterson encouraged anyone who wants to volunteer to read to children to contact the Bladen County Smart Start organization. Located at 228-B W. Broad St. in Elizabethtown, Smart Start can be reached by calling 910-862-3335, by emailing, or by visiting them on the web at

In its 20th year, Smart Start of Bladen County aims to ensure that every Bladen County child, birth to five years old, has an equal and fair opportunity for success.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal