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Building A Nation of Readers

Building A Nation of Readers

NEA Read Across AmericaEducators and policymakers of all stripes will be donning their Cat-in-the-Hat hats this week and reading to young children to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The National Education Association’s Annual Read Across America Day is a fun way to celebrate books and reading, but our commitment to early literacy must be sustained every day of the year.

Across our community, one-fifth of our 3rd graders aren’t reading on grade level, which means they’re four times as likely to drop out of high school later on. The numbers are even lower for schools around the Rockford area where one-third of our 3rd graders score below proficiency levels. And the outlook is even worse for disadvantaged students. A staggering 83 percent of 4th graders from low-income families don’t read on grade level.

We all want opportunity for our children. But kids who don’t read well by 3rd or 4th grade tend to fall farther behind, as they start reading to learn. Too many check out, drop out and fail to reach their potential. It’s no exaggeration to say that helping kids read well can help us close achievement gaps, increase graduation rates, support our local economy and build a strong community.

Families, schools and communities have to work together. We have the power to change our nation’s future if we work together to help struggling readers in elementary school. Teachers can’t do it alone. Families may not know exactly what to do to help their child read, or to spot a reading problem early on.

But the truth is, all of us can be part of the solution. You can read out loud to your child, or grandchild, tonight. You can volunteer to read to kids in your local child care center, or elementary school, next week.  You can volunteer as a United Way I READ mentor and help a kindergarten student learn to read by fourth grade. And you can speak up at your local school board meeting, or donate books to your local library or after school program. Take action. Because change doesn’t happen without you.

For more information on how to help your community, visit www.unitedwayrrv.org or www.wevolunteer.org.

thanks, roman

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