“Literacy can make the difference between the poverty of one generation and the promise of the next.”

The majority of people who are reading this post were given the gift of literacy as a young child.  We were most likely read to by parents or a caregiver.  We more than likely had age-appropriate books within our home, along with a library card to further expand our access to good reads.  We may even have fond memories of sneaking a flashlight into our bedroom to follow the adventures of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew long after the lights were supposed to be out for the night.

The ability to read and understand text is something that feels so natural to most of us that the following statistics may seem difficult to believe.

  • Fewer than half (48%) of young children in the U.S. are read to daily. Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read aloud to everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above the poverty line.
  • 61 percent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children.
  • In middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of age-appropriate books per child is 13 to 1 (13 books for every 1 child).  In low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 to 300 (1 book for every 300 children).
  • Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 to 4 times more likely to drop out in later years.

Encouraging literacy from an early age not only gives children a chance to experience the joy of reading – it also gives children the chance to succeed in life.

We Can Make a Difference
Despite these hard-to-swallow statistics, the great news is that each one of us has the ability to make a difference in promoting literacy to low-income children across the country.  Ensuring that as many children as possible have books that they can call their own will make a tremendous difference – not only in the lives of these children, but for our society as a whole.  Studies have shown that being read to as a child and having books in the home are the two most important indicators of future academic success. Even 15 minutes a day of independent reading outside of school can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year.

So how, specifically, can we play a role in promoting literacy to low-income children?  Trilogy at Redmond Ridge member June Bruno wanted to share the following thoughts with all of her fellow members.

“Many of us are at a point where we don’t need or want more ‘stuff.’  So, when we invite neighbors to a special birthday or anniversary and request ‘no gifts please,’ it would be a wonderful idea to instead request a new children’s book to be donated to a children’s literacy program, like Page Ahead in Washington State.”

June is a founding member of Trilogy for Kids, a philanthropic organization at Trilogy at Redmond Ridge dedicated to enhancing the lives of children in need throughout Greater Seattle.  Last fall, Page Ahead presented an appeal for funds to Trilogy for Kids, and the members were so impressed by the organization that they chose to donate $1,000 to Page Ahead in February of 2012.  This cash award allowed Page Ahead to use their publisher/distributer connections to make the most of the funds.

In honor of National Make A Difference Day on Oct. 27th, Trilogy for Kids will once again support Page Ahead by sponsoring a children’s new book drive. Page Ahead is the leading provider of children’s books and literacy services in Washington State. Their motto is “Giving Kids in Need the Chance to Read” and they serve more than 55,000 children in need, ages birth to 12, throughout Washington each year.

If you live at Trilogy at Redmond Ridge, you can help by purchasing a new children’s book from the Book Wish List. For each book you donate, you will receive one entry in a drawing for a “Thank You” gift provided by Trilogy for Kids.

If you do not live at Trilogy at Redmond Ridge but would like to help promote literacy to low-income children, please explore the websites of the children’s literacy organizations below.

First Book provides access to new books for children in need.  To date, First Book has distributed more than 90 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education by making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis.

Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.   Reach Out and Read builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, beginning at 6 months of age.

If you know of a children’s literacy organization in your area that could use the support of the Trilogy members, please spread the word about it by adding a comment below.