Encourage Grade Level Reading

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

On April 25th, I had the opportunity to attend a community meeting on literacy. The event was sponsored by the Ames Tribune and hosted by Ames Reads. Ames Reads is a collaborative initiative of many partners with a shared agenda in ensuring all children read and comprehend at or above grade level by 2020. Raising Readers of Story County is one partner of Ames Reads and I am fortunate enough to be a volunteer for the organization. The Ames Public Library is another key partner in this effort. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of local literacy initiatives and promote The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which is a national effort.
 Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President of The Annie E. Casey Foundation and Managing Director for The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading was an inspiring speaker at the event. Many of the points Smith expressed are profound and have an effect on families. I want to highlight a few of his points:
·         To combat intergenerational poverty we need to assist children in accomplish three goals:
o   Graduate from high school
o   Acquire the skills to obtain and maintain employment
o   Delay pregnancy/parenting until at least age 25
·         Grade-level reading proficiency by third grade will help us with the above goals
·         What can members of the community do?
o   Focus on reading readiness
o   Invest in local literacy initiatives
o   Train teachers and tutors to offer QUALITY instruction
o   Embrace the Reach Out and Read model
o   Offer information to parents
o   Encourage reading of all languages
·         What can parents do?
o   READ! READ! READ! Read to your children
o   Work on school attendance—get children to school on time each day
o   Make summer an OPPORTUNITY—not a risk!
o   Take advantage of “teachable moments”
o   Reading should be an ENGAGING experience
o   Seek support from community
You may be asking yourself, why did Randie write about this?
What is the big deal about this campaign? Why should I care? 
All of these questions are valid and great. We know that neighborhoods and community influence the behaviors and choices of children[1]. Smith shared that 68% of the nation’s children (80% of which are children living in poverty) are not reading at grade-level by third grade. This is a critical landmark for future success. Minority children, especially African-American boys, all too often fall victim to these statistics, missing this landmark goal. Taking part in community-wide efforts to tackle reading readiness, school absence, and summer learning loss is an effective way to not only foster children’s academic success but also support families and break the cycle of poverty by preparing children for graduation and beyond.
For more information about the initiatives and organizations mentioned in this blog, please visit their websites listed below:
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, http://gradelevelreading.net/
Raising Readers of Story County, http://www.raising-readers.org/
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, http://www.aecf.org/
Ames Public Library, http://amespubliclibrary.org/

[1] South, S. J. & Crowder, K. (2010). Neighborhood poverty and nonmarital fertility: Spatial and temporal dimensions. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 72, 89–104.
*Photo credit:  http://www.aecf.org/AboutUs/LeadrshpMgmtTrustees/Smith.aspx

-Randie @ http://empoweringfamilieswithrandie.blogspot.com/

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