Thursday, January 17, 2013

Literacy in America

We frequently see the headlines about literacy in America, but I have stumbled upon an interesting statistic. As I perused the Kids Count Data on the Annie E Casey Foundation website, I saw a listing for "Children ages 1 to 5 whose family members read to them less than 3 days per week". The latest data that they have is 2007, but I still found the numbers shockingly high.

On average in the United States, 16% of children ages 1 to 5 are not read to by family members at least three times per week. That means no nightly bedtime stories, no fun rhyming books, no board books, no picture books, no literacy.

Research has shown that the earlier a child has access to books, the better their academic achievement. A baby that plays with board books, grows into a child that reads chapter books, grows into an adult that is literate and able to continue the cycle with their children. Without literacy, there can never be quality education!

For a family that is struggling to pay for the basics, affording books can be out of the question. How do you provide quality literacy moments for these families? With the prices of new children's books averaging from $3.00 for softcover to $15.00 for hardcover, it can be an unattainable dream for struggling households. Sadly, in these households a book can be a luxury, much like a cashmere sweater or concert tickets to another household. These children are beginning their education, markedly behind children coming from households with a family library. A family library does not have to be a huge affair, just a chance for children to look through books and understand that the marks they see on the pages, conveys a story to match the pictures. Every child should have this opportunity and every family member should have the opportunity to provide the joy and happiness that books can provide to their children.

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