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Illiteracy In The Nation: How Your Schools Can Help

Posted on: February 14, 2019 by in Blog
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In the United States, literacy deeply and persistently affects access students have in education, economic development, and opportunities for success. Children around the country remain functionally illiterate and read below the basic level. Organizations like The Literacy Project address illiteracy at its earliest stage by teaching at-risk second-graders how to read. For schools around the nation, good work is being done in a various ways to address child illiteracy. Here are some ways schools help tackle illiteracy and improve their students reading development.

Continued Priority For Literacy Instruction and Events

Although the critical reading periods are within the lower grades, some schools prioritize literacy instruction all the way through from K to 12 to ensure students graduate at or above grade level. These schools advocate for a literacy-rich environment – full of print, word walls, books, and reading materials  – that provides children with assistance in phonics, sight word growth, comprehension and vocabulary enhancement. Government assisted programs such as SWIFT Schools and the CEEDAR Center under the Dept. of Education also provides academic and behavioral support to promote the learning and academic achievement of all students.

Host Reading-Related Events

Schools that host Scholastic Book events create environments that promote reading, collaboration, fun and learning with affordable books. Teachers may even organize book reviews for their students, and help them share their insights on books with each other and their school.

Games and Literacy Development

When schools link literacy with more popular interests such as sports or games, children are more likely to show interest in the reading material. Part of The Literacy Project’s program to tackle illiteracy is through the use of The New Phonics Game. This game is a part of a 6-week reading program to promote collaborative learning amongst students through group experience and teaches the fundamental principles of phonics and literacy.

Progression of Libraries

Research shows that when students have access to libraries, they are more inclined to interact with books and spend more time reading. Well-funded School Libraries and local libraries are environments where students have better access to interesting books and materials – both in print and online.

Daily Literacy Integration

Many schools and companies have implemented new methods to encourage children to read and improve child literacy. Schools in Umatilla, Florida and Buffalo, New York placed vending machines that disperse books, a release that was part of the states literacy week.

Literacy Campaigns

A schoolwide reading culture is essential for children to view reading a fundamental part of their lifestyle. Schools that encourage “read alouds” exposes students to moe vocabulary and provides opportunities for meaningful discussion. In the Becoming a Nation of Readers report (1985), research showed that reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual success in reading. Some schools also support guest readers to classrooms to take an active parts in reading sessions. If students have favorite books of their own, schools may even sponsor author visits to help build connections for students.

School and Family Collaborations

Some schools offer “Two Generation” programs that afford both children and their parents with education, job training, and community assistance. Books Clubs are also popular among students and parents to foster connectivity around books and reading. When organizations and communities provide literacy opportunities to not only cater for children but for their parents, they encourage reading to be an integral part of a family dynamic.


When schools address the areas where students can improve their literacy capabilities, the better the outcomes for students and the nation as a whole. Though there are various challenges to be crossed not only at the classroom level, but on a community level, the methods for helping students continue to gain momentum. The Literacy Project (TLP) is one organization that aims to bridge the literacy gap by introducing programs to remove the impediment of illiteracy and foster a life-long love of reading. By promoting learning in a fun, social and interactive environment and using proven methods to maximize the learning experience, The Literacy Project (TLP) accesses and enhances key phonic skills among struggling readers, and fosters self-sufficiency and economic success through academic achievement.

Discover how you can help your child read better today.

30 Key Child Literacy Stats Parents Need To Be Aware Of

Posted on: February 14, 2019 by in Blog
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There’s no question that literacy is an essential element to a child’s development and opens the door to a brighter future. Just how important literacy becomes has been a question many educators and researchers have sought to answer. Foundations such as The Literacy Project seek to improve reading skill levels among struggling readers and target the growing illiteracy among school-age children. Some of the most important statistics from the National Institute for Literacy, National Center for Adult Literacy, The Literacy Company, and U.S. Census Bureau underscore the critical need to address illiteracy in the United States:

  • Currently, 45 million Americans are functionally illiterate and cannot read above a fifth-grade level
  • 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth-grade level
  • 57% of students failed the California Standards Test in English
  • 1/3 of fourth-graders reach the proficient reading level
  • 25% of students in California school systems are able to perform basic reading skills
  • 85% of juvenile offenders have problems reading
  • 3 out of 5 people in American prisons can’t read
  • 3 out of 4 people on welfare can’t read

If you’re a parent and want a deeper dive at the situation, read below for a collection of stats in keys areas in child literacy to help prepare you to make a difference in the lives of your children.

On Literacy Development and Early Application

  1. By age 2, a child’s brain is as active as an adult’s and by age 3 the brain is more than twice as active as an adult’s – and stays that way for the first 10 years of life.
  2. Cognitive processes develop rapidly in the first few years of life. In fact, by age 3, roughly 85% of the brain is developed. However, traditional education takes places in grades K-12, which begin at age five.
  3. According to the Department of Education, the more students read or are read to for fun on their own time and at home, the higher their reading scores, generally.
  4. Reading and being read aloud to has an impact that extends beyond just hearing stories.
  5. 65% of America’s fourth graders do not read at a proficient level.
  6. In a study of nearly 100,000 U.S. school children, access to printed materials was the key variable affecting reading acquisition.
  7. Children’s academic successes at ages 9 and 10 can be attributed to the amount of talk they hear from birth through age 3. Young children who are exposed to certain early language and literacy experiences also prove to be good readers later on in life.
  8. Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Books for kids actually contain 50% more words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently than regular conversation, TV or radio.
  9. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that children who were read to frequently are also more likely to: count to 20, or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%), write their own names (54% vs. 40%), read or pretend to read (77% vs. 57%)
  10. Higher reading exposure was 95% positively correlated with a growing region supporting semantic language processing in the brain.
  11. The most important aspect of parent talk is its amount. Mothers who frequently speak to their infants have their children learn almost 300 more words by age 2 than did children whose mothers rarely spoke to them. Simultaneously, children learn grammatical syntax and the social nuances around communication in their community.
  12. Children exposed to fewer colors, less touch, little interaction with adults, fewer sights and sounds, and less language, actually have smaller brains.
  13. The number of books in the home correlates significantly with higher reading scores for children.
  14. Students who choose what they read and have an informal environment in which to read tend to be more motivated, read more and show greater language and literacy development.
  15. Children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than 3 times a week.

On Social and Cultural Impacts of Illiteracy

  1. Nationally, only 35% of public school students were at or above Proficient in grade 4 reading.
  2. In middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.  
  3. 61% of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children.
  4. 37% of children arrive at kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning.
  5. 50% of children from low-income communities start first grade up to two years behind their peers.
  6. Researchers estimate that before ever entering kindergarten, cognitive scores for children of low-income families are likely to average 60 percent lower than those in the highest socioeconomic groups (a pattern that remains true throughout high school).
  7. 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
  8. 80% of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children.
  9. Children from lower-income homes have limited access to books. Because of this, there are fewer home and preschool language and literacy opportunities for preschoolers from low-income families than children from economically advantaged backgrounds.
  10. Nationally, about half of children between birth and five years (47.8%) are read to every day by their parents or other family members.
  11. On average, children in economically depressed communities have 0-2 age-appropriate books in their homes.
  12. A child is 90% likely to remain a poor reader at the end of the fourth grade if the child is a poor reader at the end of first grade.
  13. Children in low-income families lack essential one-on-one reading time, whereas on average, children who grow up middle-class families have been exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading. The average child growing up in a low-income family, in contrast, has only been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading.
  14. One in six children who are not reading proficiently in the third grade does not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. (rate is higher in children from low-income families and rural areas)
  15. 68% of America’s fourth graders read at a below proficient level, and 82% of those children are from low-income families.

Considering statistics of higher rates of school dropout, unemployment, and poverty, as well as the long-term implications of the third-grade reading achievement gap, The Literacy Project was established to make a significant and lasting impact to children through the power of reading. With a comprehensive literacy intervention program, The Literacy Project strives to improve reading skill levels among struggling readers at Title 1 schools throughout Southern California.

Discover how you can help your child read better today.

10 Key Benefits of Phonics Education with Children

Posted on: January 29, 2019 by in Blog
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As a parent, one of the most important things in life is seeing your child do well in school and life, and one key stepping stone on this path is becoming a good reader. For teachers, it is all the same, as The Department of Education states that deploying a phonics education at an early age can also help children develop culturally, socially, and emotionally. Research shows that phonics when taught correctly is one of the most effective ways of teaching children to learn to read, and can lay a proper foundation for the success of a child. This article will further cover the top benefits of phonics education with children.

Reading exercises the brain.

Reading in itself is a complex mental task that helps increase a young reader’s intelligence by building new neural pathways in the brain. Phonics allows children to see letters written on a page and provides them with the tools to understand it properly. Beyond reading and writing, it helps children develop general thinking skills such as probabilistic reasoning and reasoning by analogy.

Children who practice reading often through phonics, get better.

The old saying “practice makes perfect” ties in well with phonics, as it is an important tool for children to develop reading fluency. Over time, children are able to develop into fluent readers who can quickly recognize familiar words and easily sound out new words they encounter.

Sound to symbol recognition becomes faster

A child who learns reading through phonics will have excellent phonemic awareness – which is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate letter symbols with their appropriate sound.

Reading builds a child’s patience and concentration.

Most of the time while a child practices reading, they are required to sit still and quietly so that they can focus on the task at hand. They also become better students by following a teacher’s instruction over time.

Reading improves grasp of vocabulary and language.

Extensive reading helps children broaden their vocabulary and general knowledge. Phonics allows young readers to develop their reading comprehension and decode new words as they read. With practice, this action becomes so automatic that they are able to easily understand the overall meaning of words while they are reading.

Phonics education helps children be imaginative and empathetic

As children develop their reading skills and learn about people, places, and events outside of their own experience, they begin to imagine how they would feel in that situation. They see the world with new eyes and can better visualize the descriptions of what they read.

Sounding out unfamiliar words is easier

Donald R. Bear, Marcia Invernizzi, Shane Templeton and Francine Johnson, authors of “Words Their Way,” mention that teaching phonics allows students to find the regular patterns of words, and connect them for easier reading. Unfamiliar words are easier for unravel as children develop their phonemic awareness.

Children learn syllable structure

A student who learns phonics becomes more familiar with syllable structure. For example, acknowledging that a closed syllable will end in a consonant and have a short vowel, while an open syllable will end in a vowel that makes a long sound. English structures become clearer and easier to understand through phonics education.

Higher reading skills result in better success in school.

Through Phonics education, children become more active with their reading, which also promotes achievement in other subjects, not just English. Children can better grasp other types of knowledge across their curriculum.

The learning experience is fun!

Teaching phonics is often designed to be fun and engaging for children. For example, games are often tied to lessons, and the visuals which accompany the lessons are usually very vibrant. This approach is meant to enhance the learning experience, and ultimately results in better overall development of reading and writing skills.


Of course, all children are individuals, each with their own learning styles. Phonics education is one method that can be incorporated into a complete, well-rounded reading program that encourages visual learners to recognize whole words by sight, and creates opportunities for extensive reading and creative writing. The Literacy Project (TLP) aims to bridge the literacy gap of emerging 2nd-graders, by introducing programs to remove the impediment of illiteracy and foster a life-long love of reading.

Discover how you can help your child read better today.

How Your Child Can Master Reading with The New Phonics Game™

Posted on: January 29, 2019 by in Blog
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Teaching kids to read is an essential element of their curriculum in school. For parents and teachers who want their children to read efficiently, using phonics is one of the most effective methods to help kids master reading. With a solid foundation, the ability to read becomes easier, and when incorporated on a daily basis, becomes an essential life skill. Fortunately, The Literacy Project (TLP) offers a comprehensive instructional program, which ties in The New Phonics Game™ as a core learning tool, to improve both academic and attitudinal levels of students to help them perform better in English proficiency standards.

How It Works

Co-developed by The Regents of the University of California, The New Phonics Game™ works in alignment with Common Core and collaborative learning methods. The program runs for six-weeks, and is comprised of 30 one-hour sessions, five days a week during daytime instruction.

The program is administered by TLP’s Master Teachers, who are certified and reviewed as reading and language arts specialists. The program is also provided at “no cost” to both the school and at-risk students in the second grade.

The Literacy Project’s core learning tool, The New Phonics Game™, focuses on teaching specific skills to improve fundamental reading proficiency and phonetic awareness. It consists of 13 card games and board games modeled after popular children games like “Go Fish” and “Memory.” The games are aimed to help teach children the relationship between letters and sounds and develop the skills needed to read and write.

A Master Teacher conducts the program with up to six students in a group. With the help of visual materials and verbal coordination of sounds and words, Master Teachers are able to use the method of instruction to highlight aspect of the English structure. For example, one games requires using dice and set of Alphabet warm-up cards. Students take turns to pronounce the sound of the letter that appears on the card, where the student who says most correct number of sounds wins. A mix of similar games motivate students to participate in phonetic activities and improve their reading level.

All students are assessed for their reading skill level, and the measurable growth is determined using the California Basic Phonics Skills Test (BPST). A Longitudinal Study is conducted each year to measure the retention of acquired reading skills to ensure fundamental English proficiency.

Key Goals Of The Reading Program

The Literacy Project’s reading program focuses primarily on helping students to practice essential reading skills with an augmented experience in their classroom instruction. This is introduced in a unique and stimulating way, effectively extending the length of instruction to help students build to mastery of the English Language. The program aims to help children in every class do the following:

  • Use proven methods to maximize the learning experience
  • Increase self-confidence
  • Promote learning in a fun, socially interactive environment
  • Retain new reading skills to advance to comprehensive reading levels
  • Access and enhance key phonic skills amongst struggling readers
  • Lead to self-sufficiency and economic success.

This reading program utilizes The New Phonics Game™ to create a fun, socially interactive, lightly competitive and collaborative learning experience for students. Taught in all three learning modalities—auditory, visual and tactile—the program assures that no matter what a child’s learning style, the game is highly engaging, entertaining and effective. The Literacy Project (TLP) aims to use this program to bridge the literacy gap of emerging 2nd-graders and to remove the impediment of illiteracy and foster a life-long love of reading.

Discover how you can help your child read better today.