This week, as we prepare the bowls of candy and put the finishing touches on our costumes and yard decor, I thought I’d do something a little different. Each day this week, I’m going to pull out some frightening statistics about the costs of not helping our kids learn to read.
- 73 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that if children enter kindergarten unprepared, they will catch up in elementary school.
- Another 75 percent are completely unaware that nearly 61 percent of low-income families do not have any age-appropriate books in their homes.
- Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. The fourth grade is the watershed year.
Why do those statistics matter? Because kids who can’t catch up, drop out of school. They can’t get jobs, or they find low-paying ones, and more often than not, they become part of the social welfare system … your taxpayer dollars: $25,000 per year, per inmate for prisoners (nearly double that for juvenile offenders); $73 million (annual) in direct healthcare costs; and $2 billion for students to repeat a grade (because they had reading problems). In all, it is about $240 billion in lost earnings, lost tax revenue, and expenditures for social services.
With just 20 minutes a day you can help open a child’s world to literacy. How lucky so many of us are to have books or access to libraries. Do you have books your kids have outgrown? I’m sure there are organizations in your community that accept book donations. What are some of your favorite places to donate books?
Source: 2009 Survey by the Pearson Foundation (as first seen in American Libraries Direct, August 2010); The Literacy Company, Reading/Literacy Statistics page; Begin to Read website, Literacy Research page.
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