Reading proficiency is an important precursor to success in school. In fact, kids who read proficiently by third grade are more likely to graduate high school. Yet, only 36% of fourth-grade students in the United States are proficient (or better) in reading according to National Assessment of Educational Progress. It’s a troubling statistic and one that can have dire consequences on our children’s success in school, work, and life.
For some families in our community, access to books isn’t a given. Each summer your local United Way helps an average of 160 children who have not had access to a preschool experience get prepared for successful learning through our Kindergarten Countdown Camps. Students receive free, donated books each day of camp to build their own home libraries. Special shout outs to NIPSCO, the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, Unity Foundation of La Porte County, and La Porte Hospital for generous donations to these 4-week learning experiences!
Other United Way partner agencies are helping us reach community goals to strengthen and support our youth with tutoring, mentoring, and a host of other great learning experiences. Also, just this past year, the Michiana Lions designed and built a new Little Free Library at 117 E 10th Street, between Pine & Franklin, enabling local families to join the movement to share books, bring people together, and create communities of readers. To learn more about Little Free Libraries, visit https://littlefreelibrary.org/. Way to go Lions!
To help put your child on a path to success, here how you can get started:
1. Set aside at least 15 minutes every day for recreational reading.
Spend time asking your child questions about the characters and illustrations, and put some passion into it!
2. Make reading interactive.
Children need various ways to respond to books. They can build comprehension by writing in journals, dramatizing scenes, or creating works of art that bring the story to life. These interactions promote further appreciation of books and are a great way to make strong connections.
3. Develop a rewards system.
Engaged readers view books as the best reward. If we want children to be motivated readers who read for their own purposes, we need to rethink reward programs at home. If you use incentives, surprise your child with books for rewards instead of candy, prizes, or points.
When children read better, they imagine more richly, develop more vocabulary, and engage in critical thinking. You can also help nurture the love of reading by visiting the library with your child or creating a special place at home where you can read together.
Learn more about United Way of LaPorte County’s work to support pre-k and school age learners and reach out to us to find out how you can help support childhood literacy right here in LaPorte County. Visit us at unitedwaylpc.org or make a donation to our youth serving initiatives at http://bit.ly/UWLPCkids.