Derrick Smith is your typical 10-year-old who enjoys video games, playing on the playground and reading with his mom Chrishawndra Matthews.

What You Need To Know

  • Chrishawndra Matthews and her son Derrick Smith are working to promote reading in the inner city

  • Matthews has an organization called "Literacy in the Hood" that provides children with free books

  • Smith has an organization called "Boys Do Read," which encourages boys to read and provides them with books​

"When he was much younger, he enjoyed me just reading to him. So he'd go get a book and bring it to me to read. But now it's a bonding time. Now it's a time where he can ask just little simple questions such as that. And it's a quality time between the two of us," said Chrishawndra Matthews. 

Derrick and Matthews spend time reading together at least twice a day. The mom and son duo love reading so much they both have their own initiatives promoting reading.

Derrick's organization, Boys Do Read, targets young boys.

"I was reading like a book one time and it was talking about like book clubs and all that. I went to my mom's room [and] I said 'I want to start my own book program.' She came up with the name "Boys Do Read," so then I wanted to make sure that boys are reading," said Derrick.

Matthews' "Literacy in the Hood" targets all ages and genders, but also works to help the parents with resources.

"What I learned when Derrick was 2 and a half years old is that there is nothing in the inner city that can help me help him become a stronger reader. I'd always find myself in the suburbs. Shaker Library. We would even go to Solon storytime sometime. Our favorite was Lee Heights Library," said Matthews. "But I was that type of mom and it made me think about other moms that may not know about the resources that are available or may not have transportation to reach those areas."

This summer, both Derrick and Matthews have events in the community for each of their programs. Smith will hold an event called "I am Black History" where boys can get free books.

"We bring out the gaming truck. We make sure boys have entertainment. And we just want to make sure that they take home books so that they can read over the summer, read while they're on break, and we just want them to have fun," said Derrick .

The program will also teach boys about positive affirmations.

"I am smart. I am brave. I'm a leader. I can follow directions the first time. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I will have a blessed day," Derrick recited.

Matthews is kicking off the summer with a "No Corona Summer Slide" program that aims to keep kids from falling behind over the summer break.

"If a child doesn't read at least six books over the summer when school starts back, they're not reading on the same grade level. So No Corona Summer Slide is just about making sure that these children have books over the summer, making sure that they have access to free books and helping parents understand why they should be reading 20 minutes a day," said Matthews.