Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Read and Rise Program Cultivates Literacy

A meeting at The Yellin Center yesterday among educators and others looking to improve outcomes for young children in New York City's Harlem neighborhoods, gave us the opportunity to meet Shirley H. Smith, Ph.D., who serves as a consultant to Scholastic, Inc. Dr. Smith introduced us to Scholastic's Read and Rise Program, part of the Scholastic FACE initiative -- Family and Community Engagement. Read and Rise is one part of the FACE mission to work with families and community resources to build early language development and literacy skills in children and address the fact that some 35% of children begin school without the language skills they will need to succeed.

Read and Rise is designed to reach parents and caregivers to help them to build oral language and other pre-reading skills in their children by building on the child's primary language and familiar culture. Such basic everyday things -- reading aloud, sharing songs and stories, and talking about cultural traditions -- are emphasized as ways families can help prepare their young children to start school ready to learn to read. In fact, the program is based on research that demonstrates the impact of early language development and home environments rich in books and reading as factors in long-term academic success.

The program includes a workbook for parents of children from infants and toddlers through third grade, including stories to read aloud, suggestions for engaging children in reading, and recommended books. There are separate books to read aloud along with a guide for parents as to how to maximize the reading experience for their children. There is also a web version of the program as well as information on how community organizations can obtain grant funding to enable them to implement Read and Rise. 

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