Read a book, share a book: Open an exciting new chapter in a child’s life

A love of reading helps ensure a happy ending to the story of school success and produces lifetime benefits. What better time than International Literacy Day, September 8, to consider gifting a child with a book that sparks curiosity and engages the imagination?

We tend to assume that literacy, traditionally defined as the ability to read and write, is a given in our contemporary culture. Unfortunately, that’s shockingly far from true. Save the Children reports that “only about one third of American fourth-graders are proficient in reading” and that “by fourth grade, if children can't read at grade level, they're unlikely to ever catch up."

Similarly, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), posted Literacy Facts and Stats, which show that “America’s literacy crisis has reached epidemic proportions” and also cite bleak figures from multiple sources. For example, “34 percent of children entering kindergarten lack the basic language skills needed to learn how to read” (Council on Early Childhood) and “65 percent of fourth graders read at or below the basic level” (National Center for Education Statistics).

Angie Campbell, writing for Upstate Parent, reported that according to a study commissioned by Reach Out and Read, “Each night, 13 million children go to sleep without hearing or reading a bedtime story.” She also quoted Emily Bartels, program specialist for Reach Out and Read in the Carolinas, who says, “Reading aloud is the single most important activity you can do with your child to help them develop language and literacy skills.”

On a related note, the National Education Association relayed that “According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, children who are read to at home enjoy a substantial advantage over children who are not.” NEA further notes that “Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently.”

September, along with heralding the start of a new school year, ushers in a number of book- and reading-related events. In addition to the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day, September 6 was National Read a Book Day, and the entire month is Library Card Sign-Up Month.

You and your family can make a difference. One random act of kindness, a book given to a child, supports literacy, and School Zone has made it easy. For just 50¢ a book from the Start to Read!® series will be added to your order. Teach the value of giving—pay it forward to a child in need!

Turning the pages of a book can make a forever difference in a child’s life and quite literally, improve the world.