A 6-year-old girl, with help from her mom, is forming a virtual book club in Illinois to help fellow students learn to read.

Zoe Howlett of East St. Louis is using some of the money she earned selling lemonade outside her home since Memorial Day weekend to buy books.

Tiara Moore, Zoe’s mother, told CBS affiliate KMOV she got the idea after learning just how important reading is to a child’s success.

Students who cannot read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of a high school, according to the Department of Education. It’s a statistic that Moore found alarming, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I felt like a lot of the kids in the inner-city area were not reading,” she said.

“A lot of the kids in this area, talking to parents, they were not able to get onto the internet” to do e-learning and “they didn’t have certain resources,” she said.

Moore, who graduated from Columbia University in March, was gifted a $2,500 grant to fund an initiative in her community. With the help of Zoe, the idea for a virtual book club quickly formed.

When the book club officially begins in September, 10 first graders will be tasked with reading for 20 minutes a day for the next four years. By fifth grade, they will have read an estimated 1,825 books.

Kids who participate in the book club will also receive a financial incentive.

With East St. Louis schools beginning the school year with online-only learning, Zoe’s reading initiative should help ensure she and other students don’t fall behind.

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