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 the core programs 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.

BookSpring has developed a theory of change drawn from research in education, psychology, sociology, and neuroscience.

Also check our Central Texas Reading Survey for recent local data. We aim to align all our programs and services around this basic model. We have the tools to fix this problem; we need your help to reach the children in most need of assistance in the early years, when interventions can make the most difference.

The Problem:

  • Nationally, only 35% of public school students were at or above Proficient in grade 4 reading. In Texas, that number was 10% lower. National Assessment of Educational Progress (2017) retrieved from
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Almost 13 million American children live in poverty “Geography Matters: Child Well-Being in the States. Every Child Matters Education Fund April 2008.
  • 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 for the Social Costs of Inadequate Education symposium, Teachers College Columbia University. October 2005.
  • 78% of juvenile crime is committed by high school dropouts. “Literacy Research.” National Children’s Reading Foundation.
  • 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.

The Solution:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.

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

Scroll to top