It is not a ranking to be proud, but Fresno ranks among the top ten most illiterate cities, in the United States.

“Over 200,000 of our adults read at below a 5th Grade level.” said Jeremy Boriack, Literacy Coordinator at the Fresno County Public Library. Boriack said it has a lot to do with poverty, and the number of people whose first language is not English.

“There is somewhere around, at least of the documented adults, 400,000 adults who speak another language other than English as a primary language. It’s definitely a link.” said Boriack.

The reason for illiteracy varies, according to Boriack, but the key to increasing reading comprehension, is to start early. Nine-year-old Danay Ferguson is on a mission to collect 500,000 books for children.

“I’m trying to break the record for the most books donated in 24 hours, by donating every single book to elementary students to raise our literacy rate.” said Danay, whose mission already has 500 Holland Elementary School students excited about the cause, as well as the school’s principal.

“It sends such a fabulous message to the students that even a 4th grader can give back to the community like she does.” said Adele Stewart.

Through Danay’s non-profit “Reading Heart” organization, she has donated boxes of books, for every student at the assembly.

“I feel happy because I get to help other kids.” said Danay.

KSEE24 is a proud sponsor of the Reading Heart Book Drive, which is scheduled to start at Chukchansi Park, on March 18th at 3:00 P.M.

The goal is to collect 500,000 books.