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Imagine if every child in Houston had access to self-selected books in the home. 

Imagine if every child had a parent or trusted adult to read with daily. 

Imagine if every single child in Houston could read at his or her appropriate grade level. 

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We will help parents understand the vital role they play in the early learning and development of their child and empower them with the necessary tools and strategies to foster oral language development, build vocabulary and develop other foundational skills for learning how to read.

There are several examples of organizations across the country and in Houston doing great work to impact early childhood development. A common thread among each of these successful initiatives is that they equip parents with the skills and resources to be better parents. They help raise awareness of a parent’s responsibility to do the little things that have a big impact. Reading books aloud and engaging in story time is ideal, but simply singing songs and interacting with their babies has demonstrable impact on brain development and lifelong intelligence. And when parents understand their responsibility to do the little things, they can be more confident to take learning at home to the next level and own the responsibility of being their child’s first teachers. Imagine if every parent did their part and the impact it could have. It starts by giving them the tools to succeed.

Strategies for Success

  1. Build a coalition of partners to educate and empower families of infants and toddlers through age 4.

  2. Increase access to high-quality family literacy programs where parents and children learn together.

  3. Design and equip public libraries to serve as community centers where children and their parents learn together and have access to specialized resources to use at home.

  4. Support evidenced-based home visitation and group-based parenting programs that emphasize early learning and emergent literacy skill development.

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Studies have shown that access to books in the home is a better predictor of reading achievement level than parent education level and socioeconomic status. Therefore, providing home libraries to children is a pertinent strategy on our road to increasing literacy rates. 

This is about more than just access, it is about choice as well. The ability to choose a book has been proven to significantly impact time spent reading and foster a life-long love of reading. In addition, when children are empowered to select books, they are more likely to find greater enjoyment from reading and have higher academic performance.

Key to our effort to provide a home library for every child will be to create a city-wide network for book selection and distribution through partnerships with libraries, health care providers, schools, community-based nonprofits, licensed child-care centers and others.

Strategies for Success

  1. Develop a digital map of outreach to minimize duplication and maximize program reach.

  2. Expand programs that provide children with access to books with priority to those where children and their families have choice.

  3. Strengthen relationships with book publishers and suppliers to leverage buying power across our literacy coalition.

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We will build upon our existing efforts to create a tiered mentorship model that engages community volunteers to empower a culture of lifelong readers at the classroom, small group and individual levels. Volunteers are already making a difference through Read Houston Read by providing one on one reading mentorship online or in person.

As children navigate the world from shared reading in the home to guided and independent reading in the classroom, it is crucial that children receive additional interventions and supports early and often as needed.

By providing students from six years to nine years of age with the resource of a reading mentor to guide reading, both inside and outside of the home, it will allow us to dramatically improve our odds of every child reading at grade level by their third-grade year.

Strategies for Success

  1. Establishing a Tiered Mentorship Model that addresses individual, small group and classroom-level reading support powered by reading volunteers.

 
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Volunteers spend 30 minutes once a week, either online or in-person, with the same first- or second-grade child. The focus is on phonetic awareness, high-frequency words, fluency levels, vocabulary-building and comprehension.

Volunteers will lead guided reading sessions which focus on vocabulary-building, comprehension and fluency. 

Volunteers will adopt a classroom and provide high-quality read alouds to children during the required reading block focused on vocabulary-building and comprehension. 

2. Expand the existing network of volunteers.

3. Establish a program to recognize volunteers.


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The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is committed to making her vision of literacy for all a reality. Through our three key imperatives, the Foundation strives to unite our community, ultimately ensuring the future vitality of our city through the mission of literacy. Just imagine the effect of having an entire generation of young people who have the building blocks of literacy at their disposal.