WHY READ EARLY AND DAILY (R.E.A.D.)?
* The brain grows the most during the first two years of life, and by age 3, its at 85% of its size.
* Talking, singing, and most importantly, reading to babies starting at birth are the best way to make their brains grow and are best predictors of academic success.
* Low-income young children have few, if any, books in the home. Their families are focused on basic living issues – staying safe, feeding their families, searching for a job, and keeping their housing.
* Library-access is challenging due to: time, hours, transportation, language barriers, identification needed for library card, and possible library fines.
* Without books in the home, reading to young children every day is nearly impossible. On average, low-income children receive 25 hours of 1-to-1 reading before first grade while middle-income children receive 1,000 to 1,700 hours of being reading aloud to by an adult.
* A child from a low-income family enters kindergarten with a listening vocabulary of 3000 words, compared to 20,000 for their middle-income peers and scores 60 percent lower on cognitive and pre-reading tests.
* Having missed the critical period of the first 3 years of brain development, these children most likely always be struggle to catch up.
* Read Early And Daily (R.E.A.D.) was created to address our community’s reading inequities among our youngest children. In 2018 Report, Arlington Public Schools (APS) reported that 29% of their students were eligible for free or reduced lunches. Using this percentage, over 4,000 children under 5 live in or near poverty in Arlington. These are the families R.E.A.D. is dedicated to serving.
*In just a year of programming, parents indicate choosing and receiving a new, FREE, quality, culturally relevant books through R.E.A.D. programs has increased the amount of time they spend reading with their child and making reading part of their daily routine.
WHY A BOOK BUS?
A Book Bus will broaden our reach and impact to eligible families by:
* visiting them in their community on designated days at their housing complexes, schools and community centers,
* connecting with families in person who are unable to read our bilingual order forms,
* creating a “shopping” experience for these families to have opportunity to review books in person rather than relying on a two-sentence description to select a book via an order form,
* offering an opportunity to develop a face-to-face, personal, trusting relationship with the families we serve, and
* generating excitement at community residential locations -- “It's book day!” -- and building community engagement when families gather at the Book Bus to ‘shop’ for books, meet other participating families, and learn about the importance of reading aloud to their children.
A Book Bus will allow R.E.A.D. Books, our pop-up children’s bookstore and main source of funding, to:
* ‘pop up’ at more community events (e.g., community days, farmer markets, school events, etc.)
* showcase R.E.A.D. Books’ diverse and inclusive titles
* educate shoppers about book deserts, inequities in early literacy, the value of early and consistent exposure to hearing books read aloud, and the importance of ‘mirror and window’ books.
* generate excitement “It’s the Book Bus” and build a sense of community with shoppers knowing buying books from R.E.A.D. Books truly benefits the community (as all revenue earned goes into purchasing the books for the children we serve)
A Book Bus will build an opportunity to engage community members to volunteer at both program and event pop-ups and to develop relationships with families served.
A Book Bus will offer an opportunity to partner with other community organizations at pop-ups. For example, “book day” could be coordinated with food distribution day at the local food pantry or flu shots with local health clinics.
A Book Bus will be a highly-visible reminder to the community of the vital importance of book ownership and reading equity for our youngest, most vulnerable children and how the entire community benefits when the most vulnerable children build a love of books and reading.