This summer, JetBlue, partnered with Random House Children’s Books, brings their Soar with Reading initiative to the city of Fort Lauderdale. Through the use of four book vending machines placed at different city parks, the program aims to provide 100,000 free books to the children of Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale was chosen last summer through the Book Battle poll on JetBlue’s Soar with Reading page (voting for next year’s city is currently open) and through the use of innovative book vending machines, the children of Fort Lauderdale can take and keep as many books as they’d like throughout the summer.
As an educator who has worked in diverse areas of the South Florida community, I know the importance of early literacy and the important role access to books plays in the lives of children and I am grateful to have this program available to the children in my community.
What we know about Early Literacy:
One quarter of all American children grow up not learning how to read. (3)
Nationally, it is estimated that only half of children between the ages of 3 and 5 are read to daily by a family member and children living in poverty are read to less often than their peers not living below the poverty line. (1)
Multiple studies have shown that children who have access to books and other printed-materials become better readers than children who do not have books available in their homes. (3)
Over 60% of low-income families have no books in their homes and 80% of preschool and after-school programs for low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for the children they serve. (3)
More than 80% of children from disadvantaged communities lose reading skills over the summer because they lack access to books and other reading materials and those children rarely catch back up. (2)
Sixty-five perfect of fourth graders nationally read at or below a basic level and 34% of children entering kindergarten lack the basic language skills needed to learn to read. (2)
Children who can not read are less likely to graduate high school and more likely to end up on welfare or in jail. (3)
What can parents do to promote early literacy?
Talk to children early and often.
Children who are spoken to consistently by their family from birth have larger vocabularies at age 3 and are more successful academically. (4)
Read aloud regularly
Children aged between three and five who are read to regularly enter kindergarten more academically prepared in many different areas. (5)
Have books available
The more print sources children are exposed to and have available, the better their reading success. (3)
Use community resources
Visit the library often and borrow resources or see if your local branch sells donated books at a low-cost (usually $1 or less per book). Also check out your local thrift stores for inexpensive used books or look for a Little Free Library in your area.
(4) Early Literacy