On Wednesday, RIF (Reading is Fundamental) celebrated its 50th year. That is 50 years of getting books into the hands of kids. It was started by teacher Margaret McNamara in D.C. She tutored kids and let them keep the books. In 1966 the program was launched with teachers and volunteers in the DC schools. The program has helped not only get books into homes but helped increase reading proficiency and confidence in our youngest readers.
Their mission is an important one. To ensure every child has access to books and every child experiences school success.
I saw the power of RIF when I was a librarian working in inner city Cleveland. A local Kiwanis group had an event each fall at a school within the boundaries of our neighborhood. By the end of the event, the kids went home with at least four books. The volunteers would read the stories with the children, sing songs and participate in crafts and games to go a long with the story. It not only helped build future readers, I saw relationships in the community being built.
2/3 of low income children do not have a book in the home. The recommendation is for kids to be read to for 15 minutes everyday and without books in the home, many of the children from these homes go to school already behind. See this New York Times article from January 2014 about why books matter.
You can help by donating to RIF or finding a local program to support. We want all kids to have their best start in life and in school. Start by supporting the organizations with a mission to help students thrive.
To learn more about this critical program visit the RIF website.
Celebrate RIF’s 50th year by donating books to a local shelter, a little free library, schools or daycares in your area.