In October 2012, trail-blazing early literacy initiatives of the national Children’s Reading Foundation (CRF) received a two-year grant totaling $2.87 million to serve more children.
National CRF President Nancy Kerr said the grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education through the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program.
Total cost of the two year expansion, including the Foundation’s contribution, is $5.4 million.
“Children in 19 high-need school districts in Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington will benefit,” said Kerr. “The grant will support our community affiliates in offering Ready! for Kindergarten, which provides trainings, targets and tools to parents of children birth to age five, as well as help launch Read Up with a focus on summer reading and increasing access to books.”
Deno Lodahl, CRF grant project director, explained that under the grant, Ready! will impact 3,000 families — 250 of which will be in Bell, Laurel, Clay and Leslie counties.
Read Up will distribute books to 15,000 children each week for eight weeks in year one and 18,800 children each week during year two.
Both programs emphasize oral language development and age-level reading skills while promoting strong parent-child relationships.
“Parents and caregivers of children who attend Ready! classes leave with materials to use at home to build pre-literacy and school readiness skills,” said Lodahl. “Studies show nearly 80 percent of children whose parents take part in Ready! meet the kindergarten reading readiness standards regardless of family income or ethnicity, compared to 55 percent of children whose parents do not attend.”
Coming in Bell County in June, the Read Up program, typically hosted in parks and community centers, models reading techniques for parents and caregivers and gives books to children in low-income neighborhoods.
Read Up promotes summer reading and takes aim at reversing the “summer slide,” a situation where students lose up to three months of reading when school is out.
“Reading is one of the most critical skills in life and a lifelong love of reading begins in a child’s early years,” said Kerr. “This grant will enable us to expand out programs to support young readers beginning at birth and through third grade.”