Literacy Issues: RIF Brings Solutions
Literacy—the ability to read and write—is essential to fully developing a sense of well-being and citizenship. Children who are solid readers perform better in school, have a healthy self-image, and become lifelong learners, adding to their viability in a competitive world.
Experts estimate that nearly 40 percent of U.S. 4th graders do not achieve basic levels of reading proficiency. The number is higher among low-income families, certain minority groups, and English language learners. The tragedy is that these children may never fully participate in American society. Their employment prospects grow dim and the chance for anti-social behavior increases. In short, they will be viewed as “problems.”
But there are solutions. RIF’s primary mission is to bring reading motivation to all children, especially those in disadvantaged households. RIF achieves this goal by putting new books into the hands of children along with fun literacy activities. Children select the books according to their interests. They feel empowered and renewed, and they begin to see new possibilities.
RIF makes a difference because we confront literacy issues daily. We understand how to renew a child's reading life, inspire families to read together, and reenergize teachers who need resources to motivate their students.
We invite you to review the critical literacy issues RIF addresses and to learn more about RIF, our programs, and our progress.
Access to Books
Two-thirds of America’s children living in poverty have no books at home, and the number of families living in poverty is on the rise. Many public and school libraries are being forced to close or reduce their operating hours. Children who do not have access to books and do not read regularly are among the most vulnerable Americans. RIF is working to ensure that all children have access to books, particularly those children most at risk for educational failure. RIF recently released a new research report highlighting the significance and impact of providing children access to print materials. The results are clear—access to books improves students' reading achievement.
Early Childhood Reading Readiness
Learning to use language and communicate with the written word are critical skills that children acquire as they grow and develop. Reading aloud to children at an early age is the most effective way to help them attain these skills. Reading also stimulates children's imagination and expands their understanding of the world. By helping our children develop strong reading skills at an early age, we are laying the foundation for their success in school and in life. In 2007, RIF launched Leading to Reading, our award-winning website featuring engaging literacy activities for adults to experience together with young children.
The Achievement Gap and Multicultural Literacy
The U.S. Department of Education describes the achievement gap as the difference in academic performance between different ethnic groups. The current disparity in academic achievement amongst low-income African Americans and Hispanics as compared to their White peers is alarming. By 4th grade, African American and Hispanic students are, on average, nearly three academic years behind their White peers. To help address this, RIF has launched a Multicultural Literacy Campaign, a multiyear effort to promote and support early childhood literacy in African American, Hispanic, and American Indian communities. Since its launch in 2007, this proactive initiative has continued to expand existing services, develop new resources, and partner with other organizations.
Many of our nation’s children lack the motivation to read. Researchers have described motivation as the “skill and will” to learn. Students who reported reading more frequently for fun have higher reading proficiency scores than those who reported reading less frequently. Interestingly, a positive correlation also exists between the amount of time children read for pleasure and their math and science achievement. RIF not only gives children the opportunity to choose books to keep but also encourages children to celebrate reading through exciting literacy-based activities and events.
Summer Reading Slide
Something is waiting for many children every summer, and their parents don’t even know it’s out there. It's called the "summer slide," and it describes what happens when young minds sit idle for three months. Children who do not read over the summer will lose more than two months of reading achievement. Summer reading loss is cumulative. By the end of 6th grade, children who consistently lose reading skills over the summers will be two years behind their classmates. RIF provides resources for parents and teachers to keep kids reading throughout the summer and beyond.