Educators and policymakers recently donned their “Cat-in-the-Hat” hats and read to young children to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday March 2.
United Way, in its partnership with the National Education Association and teachers, is proud to celebrate Read Across America Day.
“It’s a fun way to celebrate books and reading, as well as our commitment to early literacy,” commented Nancy Pinto of the Clearfield Area United Way.
According to Pinto, two-thirds of third-graders aren’t reading at grade level nationwide. This means they’re four times as likely to drop out of high school later on.
The outlook is even worse for disadvantaged students. She said that a staggering 83 percent of fourth-graders from low-income families don’t read at grade level.
“We all want an opportunity for our children,” Pinto commented, “but kids who don’t read well by third- or fourth-grade tend to fall 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 early can help us close achievement gaps, increase graduation rates, support our local economy and build a strong community.”
Pinto believes that families, schools and communities must work together powerfully to change the nation’s elementary students who are struggling to read.
She said the teachers cannot do it alone while families may not be able to identify an early reading problem and seek the proper help.
Pinto reminds community members that the Clearfield Area United Way collects new and gently-used books and donates them to local organizations, which serve children.
“But the truth is all of us can be part of the solution,” she said. “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.
You can volunteer as a tutor or mentor, speak up at your local school board meeting or donate books to your local library or to our Reading Ripples Project.”
Pinto invited groups and organizations to collect early-grade reading books for the United Way project. More information is available by calling the CAUW at 814-765-6521.