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For children, reading not only furthers their linguistic skills and comprehension, but it provides a window to the world and helps them understand what’s going on around them.
It's also a habit that needs to be cultivated early on in childhood. In fact, studies have shown that children who aren’t able to read by third grade are more likely to fall behind in other areas, like history or science, and are less likely to finish high school.
For families in poverty, finding resources to help with reading can be a struggle. As a result, only 15 percent of Los Angeles fourth graders who live with low-income families are meeting grade-level proficiency standards. Reading Partners helps these children by partnering with community leaders and organizations to get these children the support they need. Their one-on-one tutoring has equipped countless students with the skills they need to do well in school and eventually lead a successful life.
United Way is tackling the problem of reading literacy in a few different ways. One of the ways is encouraging people to donate gently used or new children’s books they can distribute to children in need. As part of this, they sponsor Little Free Libraries. These libraries are located in doctors’ offices, community centers, schools, and parks across Orange County. Kids are encouraged to take a book, and then leave one to share with others. Orange County United Way also offers online tutoring to help at-risk students succeed.
The AAP-OC runs a unique program called Reach Out & Read OC, which partners with doctors to “prescribe” books to families and encourage them to read together. Pediatricians and family physicians give new books to children during their regular check-ups and educate parents on the importance of reading aloud to their kids.
The mission of Children’s Book Bank is to fill every home with engaging books that will spark the imagination of young minds. During the 2017-2018 school year, they were able to gather 108,000 books and donate collections to 8,554 different children in the area. As a result, families spent 45 more minutes a week reading together.
These organizations are doing such important work. Getting kids into reading isn’t just about meeting benchmarks on standardized tests. It’s about cultivating a lifelong habit of learning and setting them up for success.
Reading is one of the best ways to acquire knowledge. Why else do you think successful people read so much? Bound in each set of pages are the wisdom, experience, and knowledge of an author who spent a significant chunk of time researching, learning, and putting it together—and you are lucky enough to access it without going through all the hard work. Take advantage of that.
Apart from the knowledge you gain, reading helps develop essential skills. The use of language builds vocabulary, and seeing how words are put together on the page strengthens student’s writing abilities. Time spent reading also builds focus. As you concentrate on the story, you expand your attention span and learn to block out distractions.
As a parent, there are many things you can encourage your own kids to do. Setting aside time each day to read together can instill the habit of regular reading. You can also grow an interest by modeling the behavior and reading more yourself.
If your child is disinterested and complains about reading being boring, that’s usually because they haven’t found a book that excites them. In this case, it’s best to avoid forcing your child to read something they don’t want to. Instead, help them find material they will enjoy.
Even if you don’t have kids of your own, you can still help youth get into reading. Volunteer at a local library. Donate books. Read stories to younger kids in your community. Or, reach out to one of the organizations we listed above. There’s plenty of ways to get involved.