Non-profit Spotlight: Connecting children and adults to a love of reading

LatinaLista — For those who know how to read, reading is the most natural skill to possess. For those who don’t know how to read, it is a huge obstacle in achieving a higher quality of life.

The importance of reading can never be stressed enough, and as the nation sails towards a more high-tech, reading-intensive future, everyone who knows how to read will have the advantage — starting with the children.

Unfortunately, over 60 percent of low-income families don’t have children’s books in their homes.

One such organization that has been working for over 20 years bringing books and instilling a love of reading into all ages who are at-risk of being illiterate is The Reading Connection (TRC). Based in Washington, DC, TRC gives out about 9,000 books year to about 1300 children. In addition to providing children with new books, the organization supplies volunteers to homeless shelters and children’s center to read out loud to children. They also hold literacy classes for adults and training for their literacy volunteers.

The group’s mission is to: improve the lives of at-risk children and families by helping them create and sustain literacy-rich environments and motivation for reading.

In addition to hosting the programs that meet their mission, The Reading Connection’s website also offers helpful tips on how to read to children, which books to pick out and how to include children in the reading process.

Even for children who have little experience with books, it is important to allow them to choose their books for themselves. Studies show that book choice is an important motivating factor as children learn to read and develop their self-images as readers.

According to the organization, even in families where the parents have limited literacy skills it’s still possible to include them in reading to their children by choosing wordless books that foster imagination for both parent and child in telling the story based on the pictures used to illustrate the story.

Regardless of how the story is told, the bottom line is that children must hear stories. According to reading experts, children need to hear 1,000 stories read out loud before they can learn to read for themselves — and embark on a path of success for the future.

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