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Literacy in America

Literacy is the Key to Lifelong Education

Photo: Courtesy of Aaron Burden

Alicia Levi

President & CEO of Reading Is Fundamental

Like many of you, for me “hope” means helping a child in ways that inspire, engage, and support them to fulfill their dreams and aspirations. I can’t think of a more important gift to open up the world for a child than the gift of reading.

That is certainly our philosophy at Reading Is Fundamental, America’s leading children’s literacy organization. We believe that every child should be able to read. It is the foundation on which all future learning is built. Moreover, reading ignites imaginations and opens a world of possibilities. Every child deserves access to books and to learn how to read.

A crisis in literacy ​​​​​​​

Only 37 percent of high school graduates read at or above proficiency. This is the troubling truth about the literacy crisis in America today, and it impacts children from every walk of life. For example, take my youngest child; she struggled with reading at an early age even though, like many of her peers in our community, she attended preschool from the age of two. My husband and I were shocked when her Kindergarten teacher informed us that she did not recognize letters. I have spent my career building educational solutions for children, my husband and I are very engaged parents, and yet, somehow, we missed it. We, like every parent with a child who has struggled with reading, want to provide them with the bedrock of literacy to support them on life’s journey.

We must meet children where they learn and how they learn. Many of today’s children are digital natives with information coming at them in a million different ways, and from a million different directions. Our challenge is to provide them with engaging multiplatform solutions that support a culture of literacy, and ensure their parents, educators and caregivers support these children with the opportunities that knowing how to read provides.        

How to help

I am often asked how people can give children an extra hand as they learn to read. Here are a few ways to get involved: read for 20 minutes each day to a child; volunteer as a reading mentor at a local day care, school, or library; champion reading in your community and through social media; donate a book to a child in need.

Literacy is an essential life skill. Of all the gifts we give our children, it is the one that provides the foundation for the rest of their lives. By giving the gift of literacy, we offer children hope for the future. This is the mission of Reading Is Fundamental, now and for over 50 years. I hope you will join us in our quest so that, together, we can create change and ensure every child can read and succeed.

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