In the last few months, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has raised national attention about the “word gap” – the fact that children from low-income homes hear 30 million fewer words than their higher income peers.
A lack of exposure to words means low-income children are more likely to enter kindergarten already behind, and may never catch up. One solution for the word gap can be found right here in the Bay Area.
Raising a Reader San Francisco and Alameda is working hard to reverse the word gap by providing an ongoing rotation of books to low-income toddlers and preschoolers, and teaching their parents the importance of reading to their children daily.
Research shows that over 60% of low-income children do not have a single book at home. Thanks to Raising a Reader, every week 11,000 low-income Bay Area children get a bright red bag filled with a set of new books to borrow. Within a year, participating children will have been exposed to over 100 different high-quality children’s books.
The book bags are rotated and distributed through local child care programs, whose staff provide training and tools for parents to engage in daily book sharing with their children, regardless of literacy level or home language. Research shows that when children are read to regularly from a very young age, it promotes brain development, improves their school readiness skills, and leads to higher graduation rates.
That’s why last week we allocated $225,000 to Raising a Reader San Francisco Alameda to expand its services to Contra Costa County. While we’ve been implementing Raising a Reader here for the last five years, we expect to serve even more families with this new investment. In addition, child care providers will receive more effective training and support to help them promote literacy concepts with parents.
Raising a Reader helps level the playing field for low-income children. We’re proud to support this worthy program.