Third grade reading proficiency is one of the most significant predictors of high school graduation. United Way is implementing a nationwide literacy program, “Raising a Reader,” in the Coachella Valley and Desert Sands Unified School Districts to help educate students in the valley.
Raising a Reader gives students a book bag of books every week to take to and from school. United Way representatives surprised preschoolers at Van Buren Head Start on Tuesday to roll out the program.
“I can see the challenges that they start with and how they grow and how much they enjoy it,” Debra Hoffman, the teacher, said.
The program will initially serve 875 kindergarten children in the Coachella Valley Unified School District and 485 preschool children in the Desert Sands Unified School District. The program is funded by United Way of the Desert from a grant provided by First 5 Riverside.
“The future of this program is very bright, we’re hoping to expand it further into other age groups,” Kristal Granados, Executive Director of United Way of the Desert, said.
“It’s sort of like having our own library,” Debra Hoffman, the teacher, said. “It’s a great program, it gives the parents and the children a chance to work together.”
Parents of some students showed up to the big surprise.
“They want to read more stories and they want to be able to read to their brother,” Sabrina Hijazi, a mother of seven said about the program. “I really enjoy it.”
Raising A Reader is a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and guidance for families to implement home-based literacy routines and has served more than 1.6 million children nationwide.