Early Literacy is a Public Matter

Early childhood language and literacy development should be viewed as a critical issue not just by children’s families and teachers, but by business leaders, civic activists, nonprofit workers, child-care professionals—in other words, everyone who cares about the future of our children and our community.

Our children's literacy helps determine the future of our community; it's everyone's concern! Tweet this!

Literacy enables children to grow into adults who can synthesize and evaluate information, earn a living in the knowledge-based economy, and be active and effective citizens. The literacy of today’s children helps determine the kind of community that Memphis and Shelby County will be in the future.

Early literacy development is vital to later academic success. Children with poor reading skills are more likely to repeat a grade, which too often sets the stage for a pattern of failure in school. Children not reading proficiently at grade 3 are 4 times more likely to drop out of high school.

Shared reading strengthens children’s language development.

Research shows that the amount and quality of speech that parents and caregivers use with children are among the strongest influences on language skills. That’s why shared reading is an important component of a child’s learning environment: it increases the variety of speech he hears, since it introduces him to words that he may not hear in everyday conversation.

What exactly does shared reading mean? Children benefit more when reading is interactive than when they listen passively while an adult reads to them. With shared reading, parents and caregivers use stories and pictures as opportunities to ask questions and explore ideas. The shared experience is as important as the words on the page.

Literacy-related programs present numerous volunteer opportunities.

You can help build a strong future for our community and its children by offering your time or other resources to literacy-oriented organizations. Read a book to a public school classroom or tutor a student who is struggling with reading. School and library literacy programs around Shelby County always welcome new volunteers.

Literacy Mid-South has created a huge list to find opportunities near you: http://www.literacymidsouth.org/resources/resource-map