Building Vocabulary by Bringing Books to North America

Building Vocabulary by Bringing Books to North America

Would you expect a place like Atlanta, Georgia to need help with literacy? No? What about Grand Rapids, Michigan? As it turns out, low income communities don’t just exist in third-world countries. They’re everywhere, which means that literacy efforts are needed everywhere. The World Literacy Foundation has been helping six low income communities in these two US cities by bringing books to underprivileged schools.  

But what does it mean to just bring a ‘book’ to a school; how do you know it’s having an impact? Allison Hough, Project Manager with the World Literacy Foundation, and her team did some research into how a lack of books is affecting these children.

During the first years of life, a disadvantaged child hears roughly 30 million fewer words than children from high-income families. These children have vocabularies that are half the size of their peers by age 3, putting them at a disadvantage before they even step foot in a classroom.

The average middle class child has been exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading, but the average child growing up in a low-income family has only been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading.” 

 – Allison Hough, Project Manager with the World Literacy Foundation

Our Initiative: Reading Out of Poverty

Reading Out of Poverty, a project started by the World Literacy Foundation, was brought to North America to help these children catch up. It includes everything from book giving, hosting read aloud sessions to pop-up libraries. It might seem like a little victory, but bringing books to these children can make a huge difference in how they grow up and what importance words and books plays in their life.

 Many children don’t have a single book to read at home. Imagine how that could be changed with simple steps such as encouraging reading at school and donating books to those children and explore with them the power of literacy. Every child ought to have the opportunity to read. When the World Literacy Foundation celebrated International Literacy Day in North America, the team along with Allison Hough, visited Cesar Chavez elementary school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kindergarteners up to third graders were able to take a free book home with them to read to their families.  

Bringing books to underprivileged schools and communities is no easy task, but the difference that even one book can make is astronomical. World Literacy Foundation wants to bring as many books as possible to as many children as they can. Why not take initiative in your own community?  To keep up on the project work in Atlanta and Grand Rapids follow WLF’s social media pages or contact Allison directly at allison@worldliteracyfoundation.org. 

 Written by Gabriella Gricius.