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United We Read

By Carolyn Simpson, Community Impact Associate/Success by 6 Director

If you have not yet heard, on Thursday, September 20th, more than 400 volunteers will arrive at every second-grade classroom in Frenship ISD, Lubbock ISD, Lubbock Cooper ISD, New Deal ISD, and Shallowater ISD to participate in United We Read, reaching more than 3,600 students. Thanks to the generous support of Covenant Children’s, Betenbough Homes, Scholastic Books and United Supermarkets, every child will not only read The Little Red Fort in their classrooms that day but go home with a copy of the book and activities to go along with the story. Volunteers from the City of Lubbock, Lubbock County, and many other organizations have gotten involved to help make this day happen.

The goal of the United We Read event is to promote reading to and with children. Reading aloud is one of the best ways to help children develop word mastery and grammatical understanding, which forms the basis for learning how to read. The emphasis on talking and reading more to children to increase their vocabularies is based on research by Betty Hart and Todd Risley at the University of Kansas. They found that low-income parents spoke about 620 words to their children in an average hour compared with 2,150 words spoken by more affluent parents. By age 3, children from more affluent homes had heard 30 million more words than children whose parents were low-income. Hart and Risley concluded that the more parents talked and read to their children, the faster children’s vocabularies grew and the higher the children’s IQ test scores were.

When parents and caregivers read and talk to children 0-8 years old, they are helping their child’s brain develop. Parents do not need special training or education to interact with their children. One easy way to do this is to pretend you are a television or radio announcer. We are all familiar with the announcers on television who tell us what is happening in a football game, or NASCAR racing. A parent can do the same when they are driving the car. For example, the parent could say: “I am driving down University Ave. There is a red light. Red means stop, so I am stopping the car. The light turned green, which means go. Now we are continuing down University Ave to our destination.” Another tip is to turn off the television and make up stories and songs with your child. Children’s brains respond to a parent’s or caregiver’s voice more than anyone else. The conclusion is to talk and read to your children.

Lubbock Area United Way is promoting grade level reading by 3 rd grade with information, education and events like United We Read. From kindergarten to 3rd-grade children are “learning to read”. Beginning in 4thgrade, children “read to learn”. Therefore, it is important that we engage the entire community to help our children acquire the skills to be successful students.

For more information on how you or your company can become involved, contact us at