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Give the Gift of Literacy this Holiday Season

Give the Gift of Literacy this Holiday Season

As the winter season approaches, I’m reminded of the days I would curl up with a good book and a hot chocolate at my grandmother’s house during the winter breaks as a child. Before computers and the internet became an integral part of my life, my grandmother’s dozen or so book shelves were my window into worlds outside of my provincial life.

I cried passionately when I read about the civil rights struggles of African Americans in The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes and laughed out loud at the stories of sibling rivalry and love in Little Women. These books taught me about the resiliency of the human spirit and fostered a curiosity about the world around me.

Unfortunately, not all children have the opportunity to enjoy a good book this holiday season. In 2009, “The Nation’s Report Card” showed that only 33 percent of fourth graders read at a proficient level. Early literacy proficiency is critical in laying the foundation for student success. Failure to read on track by the end of third grade not only has negative consequences for children and their families, but it also has significant economic implications for our nation, leading to increased costs for remediation and special education.

To ensure that our young people receive critical literacy development and support services, we must make literacy a priority in the federal budget. The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, which is the only targeted federal literacy funding for birth through grade 12, is at real risk of being eliminated.

It provides for a strong federal investment in high quality literacy instruction that helps states improve programs to strengthen the literacy skills of all students. Striving Readers did not receive any funding in the last appropriations bill and is on the chopping block for funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 appropriations bill.

Through Striving Readers, forty-eight states received formula funding in 2010 to create state literacy teams. In a competitive grant process in 2011 that built on that initial investment in preparing states for effective leadership, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Texas were awarded implementation grants. Without renewed funding in FY 2012, the Department of Education may not be able to continue funding the existing grantees, much less provide resources to additional states.

As Congress considers appropriations for FY 2012, join us in urging the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) to fund Striving Readers at $183 million – the level approved by the Senate’s LHHS Appropriations Committee. Help us give the gift of literacy to children this year and many years to come.

Send A Message

Send A Message to Chairman of the House Appropriations LHHS Subcommittee Denny Rehberg:

Tweet: Hey @DennyRehberg  Pls support funding for Striving Readers at the senate level of $183 million. Help our #KidsWin

Write a message on his Facebook wall: Hello Congressman Rehberg, Please fund Striving Readers in the House appropriations bill - at the senate level of $183 million. The ability to read and write is the foundation for all other education. We need to make literacy a national priority.