Life Skill: Literacy

Parent & Family Engagement | 04/05/2018

Brooke Brod
Organizing Director, Stand for Children Washington

A small child no older than five marched to the front of the room with an alphabet book in her arms. She clambered into the chair, opened her book, and started to read each letter as she flipped the pages: “A…B…C…D..” and so on, all the way through to Z. The room full of children and adults clapped enthusiastically after she was done, and she beamed as she scooted off the reader’s chair.

This was the scene at a Tacoma public library last month during Stand for Children’s springtime Reading Club, a quarterly event hosted by a group of parent leaders and Stand’s South Sound Organizer, Sara Irish. Young children took turns reading books aloud to the group and encouraged each other when it was their turn to listen.

The goal of these events is to help families establish a culture of reading that families and children can build together.

Reading is a critical life skill. Learning how to read is the first and one of the most important milestones in a child’s academic career. Students who are reading on grade-level by the end of third-grade are 96% likely to graduate high school on time (in a state where graduation rates hover around 78%, it makes a difference).

47% of third-graders in Washington did not meet reading standards in 2017.

Third graders in Washington will start taking their Smarter Balanced Assessments this month and the results will help us understand whether our students are reading on grade level. In 2017, almost half of third-graders did not meet the standard on their English Language Arts assessment1.

A student that isn’t reading on grade level is four times less likely to graduate high school on time. Students who grow up in poverty deal with additional challenges – statistics show they are thirteen times less likely to graduate on time2. Stand for Children dedicates time and resources to its library Reading Club and our Summer Reading Program to acknowledge the critical nature of early literacy skills for student success.

1 of every 2 Washington students is not leaving third grade ready to read.

The more we can support every family, regardless of background or income, to create a culture of reading in their homes, the more likely Washington students will succeed.

Bringing reading home. Research shows that when children read at home, and not just at school, their comprehension skills improve. While committing to read every day might feel overwhelming for some, the most important commitment is to create a supportive environment. It’s not about just reading – it’s about having a designated area for books, a comfortable reading chair with a lamp, a monthly trip to the library, or the opportunity to bond as a family over a book.

The more that reading is integrated into a child’s world, the more likely they are to reach for a book when they’re alone or ask to read together before bedtime.

Reading together is also just as important after a child learns how to read. Even if they can sound out the words, the shared experience of learning new vocabulary and reading out loud can help them further:

“Research has typically found that shared reading experiences are highly beneficial for young people. Benefits of shared reading include facilitating enriched language exposure, fostering the development of listening skills, spelling, reading comprehension and vocabulary, and establishing essential foundational literacy skills. They are also valued as a shared social opportunity between parents and their children to foster positive attitudes toward reading.3

8 Steps to Reading Aloud (PDF)


For families looking for a way to start reading together, consider the above infographic (available in English and Spanish) that lays out how to establish a reading routine step-by-step. Every book a child reads helps them learn, and the more we learn, the more we grow.

To support Stand for Children’s reading programs and parent workshops, click here to donate.



[1] OSPI State Report Card, 2017.

[2] Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2012.

[3] Margaret Murga, Murdoch University, 2017.

Additional Resources:

Check out the National Center for Improving Literacy's website for more information about supporting your child's reading at home.

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  • We read to all eight of our children before they were born and continued the nightly practice. We had frequent Reading Nights: Each of us brought a book he or she was currently reading and everybody just read silently together. Parents and older siblings were available to answer any questions. Everyone shared A Really Good Part before we broke for a snack and bedtime. If you want your children to be readers, you must be a reader. Get the help you need to increase your own literacy and have fun with books!
    Mary Young

    April 6, 2018 9:06 AM