Ready, Set, Read!

Women United Promotes the Benefits of Early Literacy Through Read Across America

Having frequent exposure to language is critical to early learning, and the number of books in a home has a significant impact on higher reading scores for children.

Children from lower-income homes have limited access to books, and as a result, there are fewer language and literacy opportunities for preschoolers from lower-income families than for children with economically advantaged backgrounds. The statistics are staggering:

  • 61% of lower-income households have no books at all for their children.
  • In middle-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1; in lower-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.
  • 50% of children from low-income communities start first grade up to two years behind their peers.
  • Children who grow up in middle-class families have been exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading. In contrast, the average child in a lower-income family has been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading.

Every year in March, National Read Across America Day is a unique, powerful way to overcome these hardships by fostering a variety of reading activities, supporting early literacy among young students and laying the foundations for long-term academic success. Read Across America Day calls upon everyone to engage with children to make reading and learning a fun, interactive experience.

At United Way of Broward County, we love Read Across America for many reasons, and here are a few:

  • By promoting reading and encouraging a love of reading, Read Across America instills important skills in children at a young age.
  • Literacy rates in the United States have been consistently higher among children who read more often. By promoting reading among children, Read Across America helps to improve literacy rates in our community.
  • By reading books and participating in Read Across America, children can learn about different cultures and broaden their understanding of the world.
  • Events and activities related to Read Across America events often take place in schools, libraries and other community spaces, supporting community bonds.

On Read Across America Day this week, United Way of Broward County and Women United, one of our Affinity Groups, hosted a reading celebration with teachers for 500 students at Sunland Park Academy in Fort Lauderdale. In addition to school educators who are doing their part in creating another generation of readers, Women United is spreading the message of the joys of reading and participating in children’s reading circles to underline the importance of this cause.

More than 50 donors and volunteers from Women United participated in Read Across America at Sunland Park Academy by reading Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss and then giving each of the 500 children at Sunland Park Academy a personal copy of this book to build an at-home library.

“Every year, Read Across America is such an important event for our school. United Way’s wonderful team of volunteers is helping to instill a love of reading to our students. They bring reading to life, and their care and passion is immeasurable, priceless. Many of our children don’t have someone who can read to them, and because of Read Across America, the children are filled with glee. On this day, United Way brings happiness and excitement to our children,” says Helen Kassim, assistant principal at Sunland Park Academy.

“Read Across America is an amazing event, and we love the partnership with United Way,” says Joseph Jefferson, school counselor at Sunland Park Academy. “Our kids at Sunland really need an event like this every week. Their families are struggling with many challenges, and these children need this kind of exposure to the love of reading and learning. All of our teachers feel the excitement, and we’re very pleased with the impact United Way is bringing to our children.”

Women United is a diverse, vibrant network of women philanthropists and volunteers committed to solving Broward County’s most critical issues. Throughout the year with events like Read Across America, its members are making a tremendous impact to thousands of people in our community.

“Read Across America holds a special place in my heart because it represents our collective efforts to make a significant change through literacy. When our day was complete at Sunland Park Academy, I realized the impact we all are making. Knowing that we have helped 500 children and potentially changed their lives is incredibly rewarding,” Jedidiah Quiñones, Director of Women’s Philanthropy and Annual Giving at United Way of Broward County.

You can be part of something greater in our community. Join the collective power of our Women United initiative — and help improve the lives of children, adults and seniors living in Broward County.

Plus you can make a donation today — any amount make an enormous difference to the well-being of people in need in our community.