School is out for the summer and children are eager to expend their energy.  While there may be many summer programs available in the desert, they may not suit your schedule or may exceed your budget.  As a mother of two energetic and gregarious girls, I’ve created an exciting reading program with incentives to keep their minds fresh.  It is important for our children to continue using the skills they learn in school as well as keep their brains active. Upon deciding to create a reading program for my daughters, I asked, “what if I did not know how to read?”  I concluded this would be a tragedy… and I felt inspired to learn more about illiteracy in America and how it affects our children.

While researching illiteracy among Americans I was flabbergasted at the startling statistics. According to the National Illiteracy Action Project, approximately 90 million Americans over the age of 16 are functionally illiterate.  Clearly this is impacting high school students and contributing to the increase in our national dropout rate.

If you are an American Idol fan, you may recall Fantasia Barrino, who won the competition in 2004.  Barrino revealed she was a high school dropout and illiterate.  Becoming a teen mother contributed to her decision to drop out of school.  According to an ABC report, Barrino said, “You’re illiterate to just about everything.” She added, “Not being able to read to my 4-year-old son broke my heart.”  Barrino got help and can now read.  Staying active with your children and exercising their minds through books can prevent future illiteracy.

The National Illiteracy Action Project shares the following:

  • Parents with low literacy skills usually do not have access to written information to help them become better parents.
  • A child who grows up in a home with one illiterate parent is twice as likely to be illiterate.
  • The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books at home prior to beginning school.
  • Children who have not already developed some basic literacy practices when they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out in later years.

The Coachella Valley offers programs within our local libraries.  “Project Read with Me” was established in 2002.  The program’s objective is to expose thousands of children in their formative years (ages 0-5 years) to books.  Research has proven when children are read to in early years, they are more likely to be successful in school.  “Raising a Reader” is another organization achieving success among young readers as well as piquing their interests and curiosities.

Reading with your child 10-30 minutes per day will encourage, inspire, and educate your little reader.  Plus, you are creating a memorable experience as a family.  Read with your child – or volunteer to read with another. It’s one of the best gifts you can share.

To learn more about local programs, visit: www.rivlib.net and www.raisingareader.org or call the Riverside County Libraries at (951) 369-3003

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