Jacquelyn Hall, co-executive director of Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe, discusses the importance of reading to children from a young age and how everyone in the community can play a role in promoting literacy.
Why is it so important to start to encourage children to love reading at such a young age?
We know that supporting children ages 0-5 in building early literacy skills during the most critical time of brain development is essential to their lifelong reading success. Research tells us that students who start behind in reading often stay behind, and the gap only widens as they continue throughout school.
A recent Buncombe County report revealed that only 52% of Black, 51% of Hispanic, and 71% of white kindergarten students were considered “kindergarten-ready” in the 2022-23 school year.
R2S wants to make sure every child is “kindergarten-ready” by both exposing them to letters and sounds and connecting them to books that reflect them, spark their interest and create a love of reading.
How can the greater community help instill a love of reading in children?
Everyone can support children in their lives and neighborhoods in growing a love for reading. One great way is to read and share culturally responsive children’s books that feature diverse characters and stories, reflect different cultural backgrounds and affirm students’ identities. You can also point out print in the world around you, whether that be on road billboards, the McDonald’s arches, the grocery aisle or even on your phone. Visit r2sasheville.org and follow @r2sasheville on social media for more ideas!
What do you consider your organization’s greatest impact on our area’s youths?
We see our greatest impact on area youths through our mission-driven work to help close the race-based opportunity gap — a gap marked as one of the widest not only in our state but in our nation. From elementary tutoring to early childhood support and community/family reading engagement, we strive to inspire a love of reading with students we support, creating positive experiences around learning and building their own confidence and motivation as strong readers.