Children from low-income families will hear 30 million fewer words than children from families with higher income, according to a study, The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3, by University of Kansas researchers. The researchers also found that a child’s vocabulary at age three may predict his or her vocabulary and reading comprehension in third grade.
Why is third grade so important for vocabulary and reading comprehension?
“Third grade is so important because it’s the critical dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn,” Munro Richardson, Executive Director of Read Charlotte explained. “Eighty-nine percent of low income children who are reading on grade level by third grade will graduate high school on-time nine years later.” Unfortunately, only 39% of all third graders in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are reading on grade level.
The Library plays a vital role in helping parents build their child’s vocabulary and teach him or her how to read prior to kindergarten, with free access to literacy workshops, storytimes and other activities.
In October, 2014, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Discovery Place and Community School of the Arts received a $1 million grant from the PNC Foundation to create “Get Ready With Words.” This multi-year vocabulary building initiative works with underserved children ages birth to age five in two neighborhoods, Grier Heights and Montclaire South, as well as in 19 Library locations, on a weekly basis.
“Get Ready With Words helped prepare my son, Darrius, for pre-kindergarten,” said Jessica, a participant and volunteer for Get Ready With Words. “He’s in pre-kindergarten now and doing great. He’s identifying different words and loves to read.”
As of February, Get Ready With Words has served a total of 98 families, including 130 children ages five and under. More than 40 additional school-age siblings or relatives have attended the program on days when CMS was closed and during community festivals.
“My son loves school, and I think it’s because of Get Ready With Words,” Jessica said. “It’s rewarding to see him come home with all stars.”
As our community looks to increase reading proficiency among our children, programs from the Library like Get Ready With Words will be more important than ever. Find literacy building activities and learn more about Get Ready With Words here.