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Family Storyteller

The Need for Literacy

Teachers report that they have children entering school who have never held a book in their hands. These children are struggling uphill from the first day they set foot in school. In a recent national survey, teachers reported that 35% of kindergarten children were not ready for school. The area in which children were reported to be most lacking was in literacy and language skills. Poor literacy skills in the early years place children at risk, often leading to grade retention, school failure and dropout, delinquency and running away, as well as unemployment and underemployment in adulthood.

The foundation for literacy is laid during the early years. During this time young children develop the skills and attitudes that will help them to be successful - and parents play a key role in that development. A child between ages one and six who shares a book with an adult for 15 minutes a day will have had 455 hours of individual reading instruction before entering school. A child who isn't read to will have none.

Being read to while young is related to children's interest in books and their performance on reading tasks. Unfortunately, parents who have low literacy skills tend to end up with children with low literacy skills. It is important to break that cycle early.