Together we can help all Philadelphia children read by 4th

Today only one out of three students are starting 4th grade reading at grade level.

This is an alarming crisis for the entire city. Our children who lag behind are likely to fall further behind in their schooling as teaching shifts from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn, which means chances are things will only get worse for them. We need to do everything we can to help all our children read-by-4th.

The good news is we already know what we need to do. We know we can double the number of our children reading-by-4th with your help by taking both a micro and macro approach.

On the micro level, we know where our struggling readers are. Based on test results and attendance records, we know which schools present the largest opportunities to transform struggling readers to competent ones with just a little extra investment and focused programming, like what we’re doing with our community ambassadors. By setting up parent advocates at high-need schools, we can make sure families are getting the support they need to get their children to school on time every day, as well as access to our city’s resources for learning.

We know getting ready to read begins early in infancy. We know how important it is for our families to have access to quality Pre-K programs for their toddlers and preschoolers to get ready for school (and ready to read)—which is why the Mayor’s PHLpreK initiative is working so hard to ensure this. We know which neighborhoods need interventions like this the most. We even know how many quality slots we have currently and exactly how many more we need to meet demand.

We now know how to address the summer slide in learning by equipping camps and other out-of-school time providers with the right resources, and then recognizing those with increased capacity as official Read by 4th “Read and Rise” sites so our families can make more informed decisions about where to send their children.

On the macro level, our schools know what they need to do to provide the reading instruction and the right books our struggling readers need. Our libraries know there’s a great need for family-focused tutoring for our struggling readers.

But we also know from our amazing local partners that the most underutilized resource for turning things around for all our struggling readers is the love of their parents and other grownups who care for their well-being. We’re talking about not only moms and dads, but also grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, friends, neighbors, faith leaders, local business owners, and countless others.   

We know it will take more than a network of nonprofit partners—as dedicated and passionate as they are—to truly solve this problem. We know we must find new and innovative ways to reach families through informal and trusted communication networks.

We know all children are capable of making great strides, if not leaps, in reading ability with help from those who care for and love them inside AND outside the classroom through small changes in everyday interactions.

  • Which is why we are working on getting book nooks delivered to barbershops, laundromats and other popular gathering places—both indoors and outdoors— to create read-together zones and convert everyday spaces into learning landscapes for our families.
  • Which is why we promote free apps that provide daily fun tips for creating easy teachable moments, from holding conversation duets with your baby to making the most of the little time you have with your son or daughter while you wait for the bus together.

We know a lot—important, vital things to double within five years the number of children reading at grade level by 4th grade, but knowing is not the same thing as doing, or getting it done.

Our partners know they can achieve more working together to advance the goals of the Read by 4th Campaign. But we also know we need champions, like you, to understand what precisely you can do to help thousands of loving grownups become the reading heroes our children need and deserve.

We need your help to transform our bold ideas that are grounded in smart research and pilot programs into impactful changes for all our families.