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Literacy Statistics

  • 80% of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children. (Neuman, Susan B., et al. Access for All: Closing the Book Gap for Children in Early Education. Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 2001, p. 3. )
  • The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of low-income children is to increase their access to print. (Newman, Sanford, et all. “Americans Child Care Crisis: A Crime Prevention Tragedy”; Fight Crime; Invest in Kids, 2000. )
  • Findings show higher-than-average scores among students who reported more types of reading material at home. Donahue, P. L., A. D. Finnegan, and N. L. Lutkus, The Nation’s Report Card: Fourth-Grade Reading 2001 (PDF file), U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Washington, DC 2001.
  • Creating a steady stream of new, age-appropriate books has been shown to nearly triple interest in reading within months. Harris, Louis. An Assessment of the Impact of First Book’s Northeast Program. January 2003
  • Almost 13 million American children live in poverty (“Geography Matters: Child Well-Being in the States. Every Child Matters Education Fund April 2008.
  • 78% of juvenile crime is committed by high school dropouts. “Literacy Research.” National Children’s Reading Foundation.
  • An American kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. The Forum for Youth Investment with the Ready by 21™ Partners. Getting the Most Out of Your Dropout Prevention Summit: Planning Guide. May 2008. Forum for Youth Investment and America’s Promise Alliance.
  • Each dropout, over his or her lifetime, costs the nation approximately $260,000. Rouse, C.E. (2005). “Labor market consequences of an inadequate education.” Paper prepared the Social Costs of Inadequate Education symposium, Teachers College Columbia University. October 2005.
  • 37 percent of children arrive at kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning. Landry, S. H. (2005). Effective Early Childhood Programs: Turning Knowledge Into Action. Houston, TX: University of Texas, Health Science Center at Houston.
  • Half of youths with a history of substance abuse have reading problems. National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities. (1998). Children with reading disability. Washington, D.C.: Robert Bock.Half of these children from low-income communities start first grade up to two years behind their peers. Brizius, J. A., & Foster S. A. (1993). Generation to Generation: Realizing the Promise of Family Literacy. High/Scope Press.
  • Children from low-income families are at greater risk for entering school unprepared.
  • According to a national longitudinal analysis by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), economically disadvantaged children may know only one or two letters of the alphabet when entering kindergarten, while children in the middle class will know all 26. Lee, V. E. & Burkam, D. T. (2002). Inequality at the starting gate: Social background differences in achievement as children begin school. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute.
  • Across the nation just under half of children between birth and five years (47.8%) are read to every day by their parents or other family members. Russ S, Perez V, Garro
    N, Klass P, Kuo AA, Gershun M, Halfon N, Zuckerman B. Reading Across the Nation: A Chartbook (2007): Reach Out and Read National Center, Boston, MA.
  • By the age of 2, children who are read to regularly display greater language comprehension,
    larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive skills than their peers.
    Raikes, H., Pan, B.A., Luze, G.J., Tamis-LeMonda, C.S.,Brooks-Gunn, J., Constantine,
    J., Tarullo, L.B., Raikes, H.A., Rodriguez, E. (2006). “Mother-child bookreading in low-income families: Correlates and outcomes during the first three years of life.” Child Development, 77(4).
  • The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that in the spring of 2000, the children who were read to at least three times a week by a family member were almost twice as likely to score in the top 25%
    in reading compared to children who were read to less than 3 times a week.
    Denton, Kristen and Gerry West, Children’s Reading and Mathematics Achievement in Kindergarten and First Grade (PDF file), U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Washington,
    DC, 2002.

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