I attended the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading breakfast hosted by The Patterson Foundation in Sarasota and was inspired and moved by Ralph Smith’s talk. I am an avid reader and take reading for granted, as many probably do. Yet, when Smith presented the statistics, the reality that a significant portion of our community couldn't read was shocking.
Smith, who is the managing director of the campaign and senior vice president at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, points out the importance of reading on level by the third grade. His description of the fourth-grader unable to read and sitting in the new classroom feeling lost and discouraged is heartbreaking. Equally disturbing is the thought of the parents of some of these kids -- those who want the best for them but may be unable to read and unable to help transfer this critical skill to them. As he described the life-long impact for the children and the social and economic costs to our communities, a thought occurred to me:
Reading is the window to the world for children, and, as adults, we have to open the window.
This is especially critical for the future of our community -- so much so that an Aspirations to Actions team is focused on exploring new ways to “open windows to the world” for our children and for all of us.
Several days after the breakfast, my daughter-in-law sent a text relating a recent conversation with my four-year-old granddaughter Scarlett. She asked her, “if you can go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” Scarlett answered, “to the library!”
Scarlett’s response gives us two very important messages. The first is the value of instilling the love of reading at an early age, giving hope to all that enter fourth grade that the window to the world is open to them. The second is that our libraries are destinations for learning and adventure with many treasures waiting for discovery. We are fortunate to live in a community that takes to heart both messages.
It's clear our region is committed and that the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is unifying us to address early literacy and recognizes the importance of helping parents help their children.
Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.
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