Commission Corner: Reading on grade level

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By: County Commissioner Robert Weinroth,
Dist. 4 Special to the Boca Newspaper

Right now, as you are perusing this article, you are using a skill you likely learned in grade school, reading.

Reading at “grade level” by the end of third grade is an important predictor of high school graduation and career success. However, in Palm Beach County, almost half of the children completing third grade do not posses that ability.

During the early school years, children are focused on learning to read. However, when students reach the third grade they begin reading to learn.

Children who cannot read at grade level are in jeopardy of falling behind their classmates as they begin the learn science, social studies and even math, which depends on word problems as well as memorizing math facts.

Without strong reading skills, a child’s education is seriously handicapped resulting in them, invariably, becoming frustrated and falling behind. As they progress through elementary, middle and high school, catching up becomes difficult.

The first step in raising a reader is to nurture a love of reading in your child.

The Literacy Coalition, which is a not for profit organization, has committed itself to ensuring that every resident of Palm Beach County, Florida is able to read.

Their philosophy is literacy has the potential of creating a means through which people can reach their full potential. To that end, the Literacy Coalition is working to improve the quality of life in our community by promoting and achieving literacy.

Their ultimate goal is to ensure that every child and every adult in Palm Beach County can read.

One in seven adults in Palm Beach County is unable to read and understand information found in books, newspapers and manuals while, as noted above, nearly half of all third graders in Palm Beach County are not reading on grade level.

Through extensive outreach and collaboration with a network of community partners, the Literacy Coalition strives to ensure our residents who need to improve their literacy skills receive the help they need.

Last year, the Literacy Coalition provided services to more than 27,000 adults, children and families.

What can you do? The Literacy Coalition offers theses suggestions to help build a solid foundation of reading skills for a child:

  • Get Caught Reading: Set an example by reading in front of your children. Let them know you value reading. Let them know what you are reading and, as they get older, suggest they bring their own item to read alongside you.
  • Talk, Talk, Talk: Talk to your child. Talk to them about books and stories, Talk to them when grocery shopping, cooking, folding laundry, taking a walk. Point out colors, animals and everything you can describe to them. Discuss their surroundings and count out objects. Tell stories and repeat rhymes. The more words your children hear, the more words they will incorporate into their own vocabulary which will help them excel in school.
  • Read, Read, Read: Point out the printed words throughout your travels – on the street, on items in the store and, most importantly, in newspapers, books and magazines. Take the time to Read Aloud to or with your children every day. Allow your children to select the item they would like to read.
  • Take Books on Trips: Keep books, magazines and other reading materials accessible wherever you go. The repetition and exposure your children have to reading will help them hone their reading skills.
  • Visit the Public Library: Make going to the library (or bookstore) a regular event. Let them watch you selecting books for yourself and for them and when they are able, allow your children to choose their own books. As soon as it is appropriate, get your children their own library cards. Explain how it is the key to open then fascinating world of books. Help them check out books and remind them when it time to return them so someone else has a chance to enjoy them.

If you, or your child, need help with reading, please call Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County at 1.800.273.1030

If you have questions about your child’s growth and development, please call Children’s Services Council at 1.888.634.7900

There are many resources in our community for children who have difficulty reading – as well as for adults who may have struggle with literacy.

To learn more about why reading matters, visit the “My Happily Ever After Begins with Reading” public awareness campaign at http://www.PBCReads.org.

The Literacy Coalition will be coordinating Read for the Record in Palm Beach County for the 14th year on Nov. 7.

Read for the Record is one of our county’s most visible literacy projects. It brings together millions of people each year in classrooms, libraries, community centers, and homes across the United States.

Read for the Record was launched over a decade ago to highlight the importance of building early literacy and language skills for EVERY child, so all children have the opportunity to enter kindergarten prepared to succeed.

Each year thousands of adults read the chosen book to children across the country on a single day. In Palm Beach County, Kristin Calder spearheads the effort along with her staff and volunteers at the Literacy Coalition, working locally with municipal leaders, businesses and individual volunteers to make Read for the Record an important literacy tool.

Last year the Coalition coordinated 415 volunteers to read to over 15,000 children in the county.

This year’s Read for the Record selection is Thank You, Omu! By: Oge Mora.

Thank You, Omu! is the story of a generous elderly woman who makes a fantastic pot of thick red stew. As the scent from her stew travels throughout her neighborhood, it brings all of her community members over to her home for a taste.

If you would like to register yourself to be a volunteer reader for the 2019 Read for the Record Campaign, go to the registration page at:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe9PtVgR2ihFdYmwr4AkuXt8FpCN_li393VSowMf8KIw1ZB5w/viewform