Empowering Parents to Engage Through Books

As we enter into National Book Month, all of us at Raising A Reader were once again heartened by the Washington Post article late this summer, “How To Get Kids To Look Away From Their Screens and Take Pleasure in Books.” While we still find it discouraging that it appeared in the Lifestyle section and not Education and Health, we will take what we can get in our ongoing fight against illiteracy in our nation. This article is a very good read for all parents struggling with the overbearing presence of technology in our children’s world and it makes the case for reading from traditional books.
All the research presented backs up our more than 15 years of work in the early childhood literacy landscape. What the article doesn’t touch on, and completely ignores, is that 16 million children live in poverty in our nation, and more than half do not have access to age appropriate books let alone “screens.” Our organization knows this too well as 65 percent of the children and families that we serve nationally are low-income, at risk populations.
Our core program brings books to families and empowers our low-income, at risk, and non-English speaking caregivers to participate in their child’s reading skill and literacy development even if they themselves are not readers or even English speakers. Family engagement in early childhood literacy is more than simply reading words on a page, but letting the imagination run wild as a book is shared in a nurturing way. As we train parents of all socio-economic means, all have the same revelation in one way or another  – if I share books with my child, their brain, language, and comprehension grows. What parent doesn’t want this for their child?
We applaud those struggling with screen time versus book time – it’s a real struggle. We work to provide those without screens with books and tools for the entire family to succeed long-term. Today, only 4 out of 10 fourth graders are proficient in reading. This is not a sustainable situation for our nation. Let’s keep this in mind as we highlight National Book Month.