By Sharon Glickman, Esq.
If you’ve ever shared a book with a child, you know the joy and excitement this small but meaningful act can bring. But, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, since 1993 only 53 to 58 percent of children ages three to five received this joy on a daily basis.
We can do better, and during the National Day of Action on December 9, community groups, in partnership with First Book, will be joining together to do just that! While similar activities will take place across the nation on the same day, Broward educators will be uniting with community leaders and members to provide reading books to local elementary students and resources designed to increase literacy to their teachers.
Many people will be shocked to learn that in Broward County alone, nearly one in three of our 225,000 students live in low-income homes, more than 15 percent live in poverty, and nearly 2,400 of our students are homeless. Poverty places a huge barrier in the way of many community members and students achieving successful lives.
Literacy is a required ingredient in our students and community members’ quality of life. Especially in Broward’s Title I schools, which serve our community’s families who are most in need, students in kindergarten to third grade score significantly lower in reading.
Our teachers cannot do it alone. We must all work together to help our community’s children learn to read at an early age.
Access to books equals increased reading skills. One study found that in middle-income neighborhoods the ratio is 13 books per child; in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is one book for every 300 children.
Simply reading daily with a child requires a team effort including educators, parents, older brothers and sisters, and other caring adults. Having been a parent and educator myself for many years, it is easy to understand how busy and hectic all of our lives are, but reading to our children is so important.
By adding the reading to the top of your list of things to do, you also add great rewards: students who are read to at home have a higher success rate in school and children who read frequently develop stronger reading skills.
Teachers and support staff need access to high-quality lesson plans and resources designed to increase our students’ reading levels. They should also receive ongoing professional development opportunities just like other professionals.
The National Day of Action is the first step of a community-wide push to help Broward children master reading skills at a young age. In this important effort, we hope all community leaders will agree “Everyone is a Reading Teacher.”
Sharon Glickman is the president of the Broward Teachers Union.