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Ready Readers inspires preschool-age children from low-income communities to become readers by reading aloud to them, increasing their exposure to quality books, and providing literacy-related experiences.
Ready Readers is an early literacy program that motivates preschool-age children, ages 2-5, to develop a love of reading. Ready Readers trains, places and mentors volunteers who read high-quality children’s literature weekly to children in classroom settings in early childhood programs in low-income communities in the St. Louis area. In addition, Ready Readers gives each child six or seven new, personalized books annually with a "Notes for Home" section, designed for follow-up with the family. Ready Readers also gives each classroom six or seven new books with extension activities, and offers professional development opportunities for the teachers.
Our volunteers currently read high-quality children’ literature weekly to 8,400 preschool-age children from low-income communities in St. Louis. And, not only with the children benefit by having a special reader coming to their classroom every week and receive new, high-quality books, but the early childhood teachers are being provided with the tools and resources from Ready Readers to continue teaching proven ways to teach emergent literacy using high quality children’s literature in the classroom. Ready Readers is changing the landscape in St. Louis and preparing our lowest income children to become successful readers when they enter kindergarten.
Early intervention such as ours - which supplies weekly read aloud sessions and gives each child a regular supply of picture books - works to motivate pre-kindergarten children to want to learn to read
To begin closing the achievement gap between low-income children and those who are more fortunate, we must make sure that underserved children have access to more books at home. On May 21, 2010, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, it was announced that "according to a new study published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, the surprisingly strong correlation between a child’s academic achievement and the number of books his or her parents own. It’s even more important than whether the parents went to college or hold white-collar jobs." (http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Want-Smart-Kids-Heres-What/24200)
The other important factor that determines school-age literary is a child’s regular exposure to reading aloud when under the age of five. The average American middle-class child is exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading; but sadly, the average American child living in poverty is exposed to just 25 hours of one-on-one picture book reading while growing up.
We know that reading aloud to children improves their ability to read. In 1985, the Commission on Reading, organized by the National Academy of Education and the National Institute of Education and funded through the U.S. Department of Education, issued its report, Becoming a Nation of Readers. Among its findings, there was a primary finding: "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."
And, we know that children who have access to books are better readers. David Brooks with The New York Times noted in an op-ed article on July 8, 2010, that a new study led by Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee showed "that students who brought books home [books given to them] had significantly higher reading scores than the other students [who were not given books]." David Brooks writes that "this new study suggests that introducing books into homes that may not have them also produces significant educational gains."
Ready Readers is inspiring our low-income, preschool children to become readers. Because, kids who read succeed in school, work and life.