Literacy Statistics

Grounded in Theory and Research

A wealth of research provides descriptions of widespread and chronic reading failure, as well as promising evidence for the effectiveness of programs like those of of BookSpring, including books-for-ownership programs; reading aloud practices; anticipatory guidance from doctors; parent engagement outreach; and family enrichment events that motivate young children to become readers and learners for life.  Below are some selected references from credible sources with summaries of their research findings.  BookSpring has also developed a theory of change based on research and practice.  We aim to align all our programs and services around this basic model. Also check our Central Texas Reading Survey for recent localized data on reading behaviors, attitudes, and number of books in the home.  The good news is we have the knowledge and tools to fix this problem; we need your help of time and resources to reach the children in most need of assistance in the early years, when interventions can make the most difference.

The Problems of Low Literacy:

  • Latino representation in new children’s books has increased — to 6% in 2020 — but still falls well short of matching the proportion of Latino kids living in the United States, which is 26%. The Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Center (2020). 
  • Nationally, only 35% of public school students were at or above Proficient in grade 4 reading. In Texas, it’s only 25%. National Assessment of Educational Progress. (2017).  U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC.
  • Across the nation only 47.8% of children between birth and five years 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. (2007). Reading across the nation: A chartbook. Reach Out and Read National Center, Boston, MA.
  • 37% 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.
  • Children from 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. Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC.
  • 50% of youth with a history of substance abuse have reading problems. Bock, R. (1998). Why Children Succeed or Fail at Reading. Research from NICHD’s Program in Learning Disabilities. U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Washington, DC.
  • 50% of 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.

The Solutions of Early Literacy Interventions:

  • Book giveaway programs promote children’s home literacy environment which results in more interest in reading and higher reading scores during early education. de Bondt, M., Willenberg, I. A., & Bus, A. G. (2020). Do book giveaway programs promote the home literacy environment and children’s literacy-related behavior and skills? Review of Educational Research90(3), 349-375.
  • Higher reading exposure was 95% positively correlated with a “hub” region supporting semantic language processing in the brain, controlling for household income. Hutton, J. S., Horowitz-Kraus, T., Mendelsohn, A. L., DeWitt, T., & Holland, S. K. (2015). Home reading environment and brain activation in preschool children listening to stories. Pediatrics, 136(3), 466-478.
  • Motivation to read can be both intrinsic and extrinsic, and the strength of interest in (or love of) reading can be measured from low to high.  More intrinsic motivation to read is positively correlated with more interest in reading in children. Katranci, M. (2015). Book reading motivation scale: Reliability and validity study. Educational Research and Reviews, 10(3), 300.
  • Children growing up in homes with at least 20 books get 3 more years of schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class. Evans, M. D., Kelley, J., Sikora, J., & Treiman, D. J. (2010). Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 28(2), 171-197.
  • 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).
  • Creating a steady stream of new, age-appropriate books has been shown to nearly triple interest in reading within months. Harris, L. (2003). An assessment of the impact of First Book’s northeast program.
  • 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, K. & West, G.  (2002).  Children’s reading and mathematics achievement in kindergarten and first grade. U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Washington, DC.
  • Findings show higher-than-average scores among students who reported more types of reading material at home. Donahue, P. L., A. D. Finnegan, & N. L. Lutkus. (2001).  The Nation’s report card: Fourth grade reading 2001.  U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Washington, DC.
  • The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of low-income children is to increase their access to print. Newman, S., Brazelton, T. B., Zigler, E., Sherman, L. W., Bratton, W., Sanders, J., & Christeson, W. (2000). America’s Child Care Crisis: A Crime Prevention Tragedy.  U.S. Department of Education, ERIC, Washington, DC.

To suggest new studies, articles, or reports for consideration, contact us.

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