In rural South Georgia where cotton is still king and the land still provides a living a new generation has discovered a new love: reading.
Some parents say it's a miracle, especially in a place like Tifton, Ga. With a population of 15,000, Tifton is a place, many felt, that progress had passed by. With a 40 percent high school drop-out rate, companies wouldn't relocate to Tifton because they couldn't find qualified workers, CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts reports.
"They couldn't read well enough to follow a recipe, to fill out a job application," school librarian Terri Nalls said.
So Nalls had an idea.
'I wanted these kids to love to read, to be able to go into a business and feel good about themselves," she said.
Now every Thursday night, the town library is packed with children in kindergarten through 12th grade and their parents reading books. They all take a test on computer that measures comprehension. Pass the test to prove you read the book and you win a prize.
"It doesn't matter that we're from South Georgia, rural Georgia. We've got the same edge that anybody else does because our kids are excited about reading," said Lamara Moore, a parent.
They're excited and excelling. Test scores are up, and at a recent ceremony held at the high school stadium, Tifton made claim to being "The Reading Capital of the World." More than a million books have been read cover-to-cover since the program began four years ago.
"We've got a further way to go and we think we've gone from the back of the pack to leading the pack," said Mike Brumby of the Tifton Co. Foundation.
It's a mark of success, measured mostly one child at a time.
(c) MMI Viacom Internet Services Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
Copyright 2001 CBS. All rights reserved.