October is National Book Month – and in honor of this month, we are sharing some of the reasons why books – and literacy – are so important to us. The Junior League of Washington (JLW) believes that literacy is a critical component to a safe and successful life, and so we devote volunteer time and resources year-round to assist local organizations in their efforts to improve literacy in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region.
Don’t know how lucky you are to be able to read this blog post? Check out some key statistics and facts on literacy below, and see how we’re getting involved to help in DC.
1. One in four children in America grow up without learning how to read. JLW’s reading initiatives like Resolution Read put resources in place to combat this statistic, including improving access to reading materials in the home, school, and local libraries.
2. There is a high correlation between illiteracy and crime or poverty. Two thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
3. Students who do not read on grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. JLW volunteers provide reading and literacy support on a weekly, one-on-one basis to children through the Reading All Stars program at 826DC in Columbia Heights. 826DC’s goal is to help all students read at or above their grade level, and serve as informal mentors for a lifelong love of reading.
4. Low-income students are less prepared for school – they are more than four times as likely to enter kindergarten lacking language skills on par with their peers.
5. In a 2015 study, only 15% of DC’s low-income fourth graders could read proficiently. Nationwide, that statistic is even worse, at only 20%. JLW volunteers serve as tutors for the Horton’s Kids tutoring program, which provides academic support for children who live in the Anacostia neighborhood of southeast DC, and for Literacy Lab, which focuses on reading skills at the DC General Family Emergency Shelter.
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