As American students return to their school desks this fall, they’re arriving in the classroom with a significant obstacle to overcome: 25 million children in the United States cannot read proficiently, according to NAEP test scores.
Children living in poverty face particularly significant literacy disadvantages when they don’t have access to books to read at home: Studies in recent years have identified “The Million Word Gap” between children who grow up in homes with access to books and children who do not. The first will hear 1.4 million or more words during story time than their peers who are never read to.
These parent-child verbal interactions in the early years are critically linked to children’s ability to read in the future, as well as their cognitive and social-emotional development.
In Miami-Dade County where Feppy Box is headquartered, nearly half of all third graders fail to read at basic grade level. Yet, organizations are working to close the gap for children and set them up for future success. Good reading and writing habits begin with access to books.
Fortunately, The Children’s Trust and Miami Book Fair at Miami Dade College are combating these startling statistics through their children’s literacy initiative, Books for Free. Currently in its eighth year, Books for Free maintains over 70 community bookshelves in under-resourced locations throughout Miami Dade County, offering free and fun books for ages 0-8 to encourage parents and caregivers to read with their children at home, and to help children build their own personal libraries and fall in love with literacy. The program distributes 5,000 new and gently used books every week so that children have access to the life-enriching benefits of reading. Interested families can locate their nearest Books for Free bookshelf at: https://bit.ly/BFFGrabaBook.
“Studies prove students who master reading and writing are more successful throughout their academic careers—they have better job prospects and earning potential, and are more engaged in cultural and civic activities.”
-Miami Books for Free Program
Reading even just one book a day can better set children up for success in the classroom and in their future careers.
Feppy Box is excited to partner with the Books for Free program to help get more bilingual books to more children. In Miami-Dade County, 70% of residents have a Hispanic or Latino heritage, and the Feppy Book donations will allow children to read books with family members and caregivers in their language.
All Feppy Books are written on one page in Spanish and the corresponding page in English.
“The original children’s book inside each Feppy Box is the backbone of our bilingual subscription program,” says Ronit Shiro, Feppy Box Founder and CEO. “Children’s books are about a connection between the reader and the listener, sharing meaningful time together, building empathy as you put yourself in the character’s point of view, and growing an appreciation for new cultures of your own.”
We’re so thankful for a shared mission with Books for Free to share the wealth of children’s literature to children, and be a part of improving literacy in our own backyard. Knowing that what we’re doing can change children’s lives makes our hearts Feppy.