Literacy Doesn't Have to Be By the Book

Reading opens up the world–and a world of opportunities for kids

How? A quality education begins with reading. Education not only increases a child’s chance for success in work and life, it’s also been shown to be a core determinant of health and well-being. And an early start matters.

We Are Here to Helps Kids

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, kids who read proficiently by third grade are more likely to graduate high school. Currently more than 40% of Berks County third graders are not yet proficient.

United Way of Berks County supports literacy for our community through Ready.Set.READ! (RSR). Ready.Set.READ!, managed by United Way of Berks County, is a collaboration of volunteers, educational organizations, corporations and community partners working together to help improve third grade reading proficiency. In the past nine years, tens of thousands of children across Berks County have benefited from RSR programs. RSR is helping preschool teachers become stronger educators, providing books to students and families to grow their home libraries, and continuing to tutor children virtually. RSR is a tremendous community commitment focused on a common goal…providing our children an opportunity to succeed through reading.

The Good News: Literacy Doesn’t Have to Be by the Book

With the onset of COVID-19 and remote learning, many families have taken on an even greater role in supporting reading development, especially for younger children. With families often now juggling supporting their child’s virtual learning activities with their work responsibilities, the 20-minute-a-day reading routine may not be feasible.

United Way is adapting our literacy programs to meet social distancing needs and working to help families understand that encouraging reading doesn’t always have to mean a formal sit-down reading session. Engaging kids in reading recipes, street signs and product labels while performing daily tasks can all support literacy development. Even discussing stories read together in the past can help children build a stronger vocabulary, imagine more richly, and develop critical thinking skills.

Our Focus on Literacy for All

United Way believes that every child and young person should have the knowledge, skills and experiences to succeed in school, work and life. That’s why we support programs and initiatives that provide equal opportunity for all children to develop the early reading skills that can be the foundation for a hopeful future.

One of these inclusive initiatives is Read Across America Day, an annual event created by the National Education Association to promote and celebrate reading. On this day, schools, libraries and community organizations across the US come together to take part in reading books, making reading pledges, organizing book fairs, or reading aloud in groups.

In past years, Ready.Set.READ! (RSR) has partnered with local schools to use this day to make reading fun for local students. The team would dress up as Dr. Seuss characters and visit local schools and early education centers reading a Dr. Seuss classic, and then leave the book for the students to add to the class library.

Read Across America Thing 1 reading to children in a classroom
Read Across America Day volunteer in blue wig reading The Cat in the Hat to children in a classroom
You Can Help Build Opportunities for Bright Futures

Now, more than ever, families and children need reading programs to help close learning gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. When you volunteer with United Way of Berks County, you are supporting initiatives that help bring literacy for all in our community. Visit our website to find volunteer opportunities.

Literacy has the power to change lives. And you have the power to help every child in Berks County have the chance for a brighter future.