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COLUMBIA - Tuesday was National Reading Day, and First Chance For Children was in for a surprise just before story time.

Scripps Howard awarded First Chance For Children with one of five $10,000 grants it gives nationwide to support children's literacy.

Director Kasey Schaumburg said this is an incredible opportunity for the organization and families across mid-Missouri. 

"If we can help children get ready for kindergarten, it's really important for a child's entire life to set them up for success," she said.

The organization wrote a proposal to Scripps Howard, which included literacy events across mid-Missouri, talking to families about how and why to read to children, as well as providing basic support to help families achieve the goal.

Statistics show in some low-income areas in the United States, there is one book for every 300 children. In middle and high in come areas, there are about 13 books for every child.

"We give out thousands of books a year to to families to alleviate the statistic," Schaumburg said.

The grant comes from Scripps Howard Foundation's second annual "If you give a child a book" campaign. Scripps Howard's locally-owned company Newsy participated in the campaign for the first time.

The total amount pledged by all Scripps staff members was $159,459.78. Newsy, with fewer than 100 employees, raised $4,142.

Parent Rebecca Schiffbauer said First Chance For Children helps build relationships between parents and children.

"You have this nice area to meet with other parents. It is such a great resource for information for any problems or issues you have or questions you have," said Schiffbauer. 

First Chance For Children is a free resource and open to the community. It is open Monday through Thursday.

For more information about the organization, visit its website.