The research is clear. When families are involved, children achieve.
Raising A Reader is a proven early literacy and family engagement program that is based on more than 25 years of early childhood development research. Thirty-nine independent evaluations prove that Raising A Reader makes a positive and lasting impact, significantly improving both family reading behavior, parent-child bonding and kindergarten readiness across diverse cultural and language demographics. Our programs are evidence-based and evidence-informed. We utilize a Child Trends program evaluation tool designed for Raising A Reader to capture important data and foster a culture of continuous improvement.
Four (4) main program aims are central to Raising A Reader’s mission:
- Foster healthy brain development.
- Develop and enhance early literacy and language skills.
- Promote and strengthen family engagement.
- Develop, promote, and foster intrinsic reading motivation.
From the moment a child is born, experiences begin to shape the brain’s architecture (Farah, 2010). Research reveals that the brain develops most rapidly in the first several years of a child’s life.
Raising A Reader supports brain growth and development during the first eight years of a child’s life by offering a range of books that promote rich language input, a delivery method that reinforces a consistent book sharing routine, and parent workshops to support developmentally appropriate expectations and responsiveness to the child’s signals.
Early Language and Literacy Development
Reading begins long before children enter school, through a series of interactions that set the foundation for the skills necessary for reading success. Research shows that children who hear and are exposed to more and richer language are given the best chances to succeed academically and develop better language skills (Fernald, Marchman, & Weisleder, 2013). Sharing books and reading aloud to young children is not only one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills, it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory (Bardige, 2009). To foster language and literacy development, children need to experience a variety of interactions, relationships, activities and play.
Raising A Reader promotes language and literacy development through the extensive selection of developmentally appropriate books that build the skills for vocabulary, imagination, and overall reading success. Raising A Reader helps children strengthen listening skills, hear language and rich vocabulary that is not part of everyday speech, and practice conversations in their home language.
Reading, compared to all other academic subjects, is the most sensitive to family influence and reading proficiency is the gateway to success in other academic areas. Research shows that the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading is when parents are involved in reading aloud to their children (Shumow, 2010).
Raising A Reader encourages family time and reinforces the development of home learning habits that are critical for school success by helping children associate the habit of reading with pleasure. The warmth that accompanies reading by a caring adult lasts beyond the experience. Parent Engagement Workshops are designed to give families the confidence and strategies to create a literacy rich environment, regardless of families’ language or literacy proficiency.
Intrinsic Reading Motivation
All learning begins with an emotional context. Print motivation, or a child’s interest in and enjoyment of books in the early years, develops into an intrinsic motivation to read as they enter school and begin reading on their own. Research suggests that individuals who become lifelong readers are those who are internally motivated to read (Baker & Wigfield, 1999; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000; Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997).
Raising A Reader’s core model encourages families to participate in practical ways to help their children develop, promote, and foster the internal/intrinsic motivation to read. By rotating an average of 100 books into homes, children learn that books can be windows into new worlds and mirrors through which they can see themselves. In doing so, children are exposed to new ideas and are encouraged to further delve into topics that they want to know more about. Furthermore, when children are offered a choice of books to read, they will naturally choose what is of interest to them. The simple act of selecting one’s own book increases a child’s motivation.