Are You Helping to Spread This Important Early Literacy Message in Your Library?
During March Read Aloud Month this past spring, a YouGov survey reported the discouraging news that fewer than half of parents (46%) read aloud to their children every day, and only 15% do so beginning at birth, the start of a period of rapid brain development when reading aloud is particularly beneficial.
If only there were an organization that could unite the efforts of the many groups seeking to change those numbers, to promote literacy, to improve education and to inspire a love of reading and learning.
Great news: There is!
Read Aloud 15 MINUTES launched a 10-year National Campaign in 2013 that aims to make reading aloud for 15 minutes, starting from birth, the national caregiving standard in order to improve educational and social outcomes in the United States. Now in the fourth year of its campaign, Read Aloud 15 MINUTES has recruited more than 10,000 partners in all 50 states; signed on 20 National Leadership partners, including the state universities of New York and North Carolina, corporate leaders such as UPS and KPMG, retailers such as Home Depot, and nonprofits such as First Book and Reach Out and Read; logged more than 180,000 social media followers; and delivered more than 100 million messages last year.
“We believe that the place to address the readiness crisis in this country — whether school readiness or career readiness — is at the beginning,” said Read Aloud 15 MINUTES co-founder and president Candace Kendle. “When every parent reads aloud to their child for 15 minutes every day from birth, it will change the face of education in this nation.”
Libraries and librarians have been key to this growth, and among the most important and active adopters of Read Aloud 15 MINUTES’ messaging. Last month, the nonprofit recognized Nancee Dahms-Stinson, the Youth Services Coordinator for the Springfield-Green County Library District in Springfield, Mo., as one of five national Read Aloud Champions who have served as catalysts for the messaging in their communities. Dahms-Stinson has recruited more than a dozen partners across a variety of sectors in her community, helped encourage local media coverage and assisted partners in integrating the messaging into their existing programming.
“There is nothing that forms a bond between parent and baby equal to sharing and loving a book together,” Dahms-Stinson noted when asked about why she is a champion for Read Aloud. “Sharing books with our children invites opportunities to play together, explore language and words together, and learn about feelings, emotions and the vast world around us.”
Read Aloud 15 MINUTES provides its partners and supporters with innovative, professionally designed materials during three campaign pulses each year: March Read Aloud Month, July’s “Seize the Summer,” and October’s “Let’s Talk” initiative. During these intervals, Read Aloud 15 MINUTES asks partners to make a concerted and coordinated effort to reach parents and caregivers of young children with the vital message to adopt daily reading aloud.
“We believe that if parents truly understood the amazing, and finite, window of opportunity they have to shape their child’s brain for the better through reading aloud, they would absolutely do it,” says Read Aloud 15 MINUTES Executive Director and co-founder Bob Robbins.
The campaign materials, available in English and Spanish, are diverse, colorful, engaging and well-researched. They include the following:
- Infographics informing parents about the importance of reading aloud
- Practical advice on how to read aloud
- Book suggestions and tips on reading to young babies and toddlers
- Alarming facts about school and career readiness numbers
- Friendly and accessible facts about healthy early brain development
- An archive of informative, graphically pleasing social media posts with read aloud messaging
- Bookmarks, parent handouts and posters with simple messaging
Retired children’s librarian and Read Aloud Champion Nancy Young, Chair of the United Way’s Success by 6 program in Marion County, Fla., put it this way: “We needed a literacy program. I found Read Aloud 15 MINUTES and was ecstatic,” she said. Read Aloud 15 MINUTES “makes it absolutely instantaneous in my ability to approach a potential partner and show them all that there is collaboratively available to reach families.”
Using these materials and her formidable energies and innovative ideas, Young has made her county a model for what is possible in a community. She has recruited more than 120 Read Aloud partners across all sectors, and even spearheaded new initiatives, such as the “Bucket of Books” campaign in health care providers’ offices.
“To have a national organization act as our parent has given us a one- to two-year head start on our goals,” she said.
Becoming a Read Aloud partner is easy — and it’s free. “All we ask of our partners is that they share our messaging,” says Executive Director Robbins. “Libraries and librarians are such important venues for sharing this vital idea. We hope more will join us today.”
To learn more about the campaign, or to become a partner, go to www.ReadAloud.org.