Want to give back in the new year? The first-ever Houston Reads Day, hosted by nonprofit Literacy Now, will bring together 400 volunteers to read to 10,000 kindergarten–third graders on March 2, all in an effort to raise awareness for our city's growing literacy crisis, and you, yes you, can volunteer to read remotely at the virtual event.
About our literacy crisis: In Houston, 41 percent of young children aren't ready for kindergarten, and 63 percent of third graders don't read at grade level. Worse still, the recent Gulf Coast Coronavirus (COVID-19) Community Impact Survey found that nine in 10 Houston families with children under 18 reported negative impacts on education and schooling from the pandemic. So, yeah, Covid has probably exacerbated this crisis.
Volunteering for Houston Reads won't be a quick fix for a problem of this scale, but it could directly help change the life of a child. Not being able to read at grade level by third grade can significantly alter a student's path in life, potentially leading to numerous struggles, from not graduating high school to being less likely to vote or seek out health care as an adult. It's estimated that 70 percent of our country's prison population can't read at a fourth grade level.
You can sign up to be a Houston Read Day volunteer right here by February 1. The local event coincides with National Read Across America Day and kicks off Read Aloud Month, and it's part of Literacy Now's five-year expansion plan to reach more children and work with more schools.
The nonprofit has worked with HISD and the community to provide reading readiness and reading intervention programs to support children in at-risk situations since 2006, helping over 19,000 children and parents. During Covid, it's had to pivot to virtual programming and limit the in-person group sizes for its primary program, Reading Intervention, which helps kids become proficient readers by the end of third grade.
Let's get out there and help, folks. Head to literacynowhouston.org for more details.