It’s a fact: students who aren’t strong readers by 4th grade are more likely than their peers to drop out of high school. Dropouts, in turn, are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed and to end up on welfare or in prison. But anyone can take action now to make a difference in the life of a child and in our society at large.
Reading to and with children in their early years of school can help children learn to read so that by 4th grade they are on track and reading to learn. Volunteer readers and tutors are helping struggling readers succeed, but more volunteers are needed in schools, libraries and out of school programs. If you can read, you can help, even if it is just once a month on your lunch hour. Reading volunteers agree – the rewards are great.
United Ways can connect people who want to help improve the education of our country’s children to local volunteer reading opportunities. For example, “Real Men Read,” a program offered by United Way of Allen County (IN) and others, recruits male volunteers to read to second and third graders once a month for five months. And the volunteer tutors signed up through Schools of Hope, led by United Way of Dane County (WI), have helped narrow the racial achievement gap for third grade reading at Madison public schools from 21 percent to 2 percent.
You can make a difference too. Grab a friend and sign up to volunteer to read to children today. And check back here soon for more on building volunteer reading programs and getting involved.