Program - Children's Literacy Nonprofit
“Reading is more than a pastime. In today’s world, it’s a survival skill. A child who can read is a child who can learn, and a child who can learn is a child who can succeed.”
-Former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
For 47 years, Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California has taken special pride inspiring the most resource-deprived children in Los Angeles and Orange County to read for FUN! We believe that developing a passion for reading, reading for fun, is the greatest gift we can give children on their road to literacy. By bringing communities together in this mission, we have witnessed thousands of life-changing moments and received innumerable testimonials from grateful children, parents, and school teachers.
RIFSoCal is exclusively focused on improving literacy in disadvantaged communities through our Motivational Reading Program. At the core of the program is the “book event,” special celebratory activities that culminate in each child selecting a book to take home as his/her own. Letting a child choose a new book to keep as their own is one of the most powerful, yet simple tools we have to support our children’s development. Most people don’t know that 60% of kindergarteners in low-income families do not have a single age-appropriate book in their home.
The program has been a success for over 47 years because of its following unique elements:
• Community Involvement. Three book events each year, at each of 270+ sites (which include high-poverty elementary schools, preschools, Head Starts, and community-based organizations in Greater Los Angeles and Orange County) are planned, organized and conducted by volunteers. Volunteers at each site develop the event, selecting, packaging, and delivering the books to the sites, and reading to and motivating the children to read. Volunteers (over 6,000 each year) include parents and other relatives, teachers, librarians, school administrators, civic groups, and others,who all work together to effectively build a community that supports literacy.
• Reading for fun. The children decide for themselves what book they would like from a large selection of brand-new, high quality, age appropriate titles. We ask that the books not be used for school assignments or given as rewards. We want each child to choose a book that he or she will enjoy for its own sake, a book that will compel them to read for fun and pleasure, thereby creating a habit of reading. It is well established among literacy researchers that when students read books of their own choosing they are likely to be more motivated, independent readers.
• Pride of ownership. RIF books are brand new and provided to the children at no cost. For many of the children we serve, they are the only new books they own. Children and their families read and re-read the books, and often create a special place for a home library to display the books.
Research affirms the impact of RIFSoCal’s program model. Schools that emphasize literacy and engage strong parental support see higher reading scores. Scholastic, a leading provider of children’s literacy resources, confirms the importance of books in the home and the power of choice in motivating children to read, finding that 90% of children are more likely to finish a book they have chosen themselves, and that having a large book collection at home has a greater impact on kids’ reading frequency than does household income.
The Glory of Books
These words on the facade of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza embody the relationship between books and the human soul.
“HERE ARE ENSHRINED THE LONGING OF GREAT HEARTS AND NOBLE THINGS THAT TOWER ABOVE THE TIDE, THE MAGIC WORD THAT WINGED WONDER STARTS, THE GARNERED WISDOM THAT HAS NEVER DIED.”