Vision: Every child entering kindergarten prepared to succeed.
Mission: The Read to Me Project helps underserved children achieve kindergarten readiness and a lifetime of literacy by empowering school-age brothers and sisters to read to their young siblings at home.
Read to Me Project is an early literacy program that prepares young children to enter kindergarten with the knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension skills that will help them succeed in school and become literate and successful adults. The Project provides structure and opportunity for children as young as eight months old to be regularly read to at home by their elementary-aged brothers and sisters.
Our Success: Since being founded in 2011, Read to Me Project has served thousands of children in Monterey County, specifically throughout the Salinas Valley. We began serving 4 classrooms with 50 students. This year Read to Me Project served 126 classrooms and worked with 1,579 4th, 5th and 6th graders who read to 1,859 6 month to 5 year olds at home.
This success and rapid growth has been made possible by hundreds of individuals, across Monterey County, who have taken a stand in support of early literacy. Many have dedicated their time, energy, dollars, and expertise to help share and build the vision.
Why does this matter? Read to Me Project is addressing a need in Monterey County for a high quality, professional program with a focused commitment to preparing young children to enter kindergarten with the skills that can lead to life-long academic success. Children who do not read on grade level by 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school (Annie E. Casey Foundation Double Jeopardy Study). A 2013 Stanford study identified that low SES children begin to show an “achievement gap” in the area of language starting as early as 18 months old, which continues to widen with age, reaching a two-year achievement gap by the age of five.(Stanford Report, September 25, 2013 by Bjorn Carey). One of the most effective developmental activities that builds a strong foundation for learning in a child’s brain is being read to. Reading to children builds an essential foundation of vocabulary, knowledge and comprehension. These skills are critical to school success and life-long literacy. A great deal of money is spent on expensive remediation programs that provide too little, too late as schools wait for children to fail before providing intervention.
Salinas Valley, California hospitals report 5,000 annual births. Seven thousand children County-wide are entering kindergarten every year and 70% of them are entering unprepared – lagging as much as two years behind in vocabulary, cognitive and language skills.
Read to Me Project is a powerful program that is designed to reach thousands of children at the earliest ages (6 months to 5 years) through their school-age brothers and sisters. Read to Me engages a trained, caring army of emerging literate 4th, 5th and 6th graders to take age appropriate books home to read to their young siblings as part of their ungraded nightly homework.
Reading to young children changes lives by engaging, teaching, and building the foundation for a lifetime of success and literacy. Siblings reading to younger siblings builds bonds and memories, and teachers report improved reading fluency among the participating students.
How is the Read to Me Project Different?
Read to Me Project is easy and inexpensive to implement, immediate, direct, and powerful; reaching large numbers of young children where they learn best, at home. Families are engaged in providing their infants, toddlers, and preschool children with the foundation for learning and life-long literacy. Read to Me Project fosters loving and positive relationships among family members and nourishes lifelong bonds between siblings. It is an organic and simple approach as opposed to costly in-school remediation programs that often prove to be provided too late.
How the Read to Me Project Started
The Read to Me Project was started by a Salinas Valley public school Speech and Language Specialist who was concerned with the large numbers of children entering kindergarten without essential foundation skills, of vocabulary, language and basic preschool knowledge. After realizing the simple idea of siblings reading to siblings, she piloted the program in her husband’s fourth grade classroom and successfully grew the project from there.
Reasons Why The Read to Me Project is Important
- Every year 70% of Monterey County children enter kindergarten already behind in the important readiness skills that lead to school success.
- 48% of Monterey County families do not read to their children on a regular basis.
- 45% of Monterey County parents have less than a high school education.
- 50+% of the parents who did not graduate from high school have children who attend low performing schools.
- There are approximately 12,000 economically disadvantaged students in 4th, 5th and 6 grade classrooms across Monterey County, with about 4,000 who have siblings under the age of 5.
Research has shown, and many parents and educators know, that the more language and vocabulary that children are exposed to at an early age the greater their academic success in school.
It is the first five years of exposure to vocabulary and language that lays the foundation for early and successful literacy. A recent study by Stanford University shows that children in poverty are often up to 6 months behind in language development by the age of 18 months.