A young girl intently reads a book

Raising Ready Readers

At Save the Children, we know that besides protection and safety, reading is perhaps the best gift we can give to children. Teaching them to become skilled readers from the very start – by reading to babies and creating a culture of literacy in the home — is key to ensuring their success in school and life. This fact is especially true for the one in five children living in poverty in America.

More than 60 percent of low-income households have no books in their homes and only aboutone-third of American fourth-graders are proficient in reading. When poverty is added into the mix, a student who can’t read at their grade level by third grade is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her more proficient peers. Without intervention, the cycle of poverty will continue.

From the foothills of Kentucky to the breadbasket of California, Save the Children is working in some of the most remote and impoverished areas to help children read. In partnership with nearly 170 schools in 14 states and the District of Columbia, Save the Children’s literacy program provides the training, tools and support that schools need to accelerate reading growth for struggling students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Children are able to build the vocabulary and fluency skills they need to be strong and confident readers through independent reading and read-aloud practice in an encouraging environment.

The results speak for themselves. Last year:

  • The percentage of children in the program reading at or above grade level more than doubled from the start of the school year to the end;
  • Participating children achieved reading growth equivalent to attending 4.2 additional months of school; and
  • 65 percent of children showed major improvement well beyond what would be expected if they were only receiving classroom instruction.

But more than just the aforementioned results, Save the Children’s literacy program is about fostering a lifelong love for reading, which for so many children living in poverty provides an escape from reality – the opportunity to “travel” to distant lands and learn about the world beyond their textbooks. And by instilling the importance of literacy in this generation, we’re also putting future generations on a path to a brighter future.

We asked children in Save the Children’s literacy program why they love a good book and here’s what they had to say:

“You can learn many things in a book. You can even learn how to build a hamster home!”

     –Kori, 7, Point Pleasant, WV 

“I love to read because the pictures and stories help me to imagine that I am somewhere else!”

     –Nevaeh, 7, Landers, CA

“Because my mama likes to read!”

     –Kayla, 8, Shaw, MS

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