Read Across America Day & Closing the 30 Million Word Gap

Have you ever stopped and thought about how often you speak with your child throughout the day? Do you talk to them in the car about the color of street signs or point out shapes? When you are cooking do you talk about the steps you are taking or what ingredients you are using? Do you ask them questions about what they are playing or about the TV show they are watching or the book they are reading?

It is probably something you don’t think about often. Many parents don’t realize how important this daily positive interaction with their child can be. From day one, a child’s brain is continuously growing and changing. Connections are being made and others are breaking apart.

Throughout the first few years of a baby’s life, the brain is constantly making and remaking synapses. In the first three years, a child’s brain has up to twice as many synapses as it will in adulthood. As a child grows and takes in the world around them, some connections strengthen while others weaken.

For example, when speech sounds are heard, activity in language-related areas of the brain are stimulated. The more that speech is heard, the more synapses between the neurons in that area will be activated. If speech is not heard often, instead of strengthening, these areas weaken. Talking, singing and reading with your child helps ensure that these connections only grow and become strong.

This year, we at The Literacy Cooperative are working on an initiative focused on raising awareness of the 30 million word gap and what can be done to close it.

In 1995, Betty Hart and Todd R. Risely conducted a study to find out what caused different vocabulary development trajectories in children. What they found has since become known as the 30 million word gap. In affluent professional families, children will have heard about 45 million words by age 4, while children in low-income, welfare families will have heard about 13 million words.

It is hard to imagine, but children of low- income families hear about 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers. These children are beginning their school lives already behind. Without those strong language neuron connections they have to struggle from day one. They have to work harder to make language connections and comprehend words they hear; forcing them to play catch-up before their school years have even begun. Our initiative aims to bring awareness to this gap and share ways to close it. All children deserve the chance to succeed.

March 2nd, Read Across America Day, will be our kick-off event. Read Across America Day was created by the National Education Association to encourage people all across the country to pick up a book and read together. This year, we are asking everyone to share pictures and videos of either reading with a child, singing a silly song or talking about what is around you, such as shapes and colors. We are asking if you could share ways you find time to interact with your children by using #ReadAcrossCLE.

Don’t have children? Lead by example and share a picture of you reading or show how you carve time out of your day to read.

Our Closing the Word Gap initiative will run until September 8th, International Literacy Day. We will be using #WordGapCLE to promote our efforts and raise awareness on all our social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Be sure to track the hashtag for ideas of activities you could do with your children or students or to announce events or activities taking place with other organizations.

Also be sure to use #WordGapCLE to show us and others how you are closing the gap. Are you reading with your child before bed every night? Are you playing word or color games in the car? Are you singing together as you cook?

Make sure to frequently check out our website www.literacycooperative.org and follow our social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updated information about the campaign and how we and our partners are working to close the 30 million word gap.

The Literacy Cooperative’s 2016 Year in Review

Pictures from a number of events including, CLE-BEE, International Literacy Day, Read Across America Day, STEP tutoring program, and Teacher Academy.

2016 was a successful and busy year for us. Our mission at The Literacy Cooperative is to work to advance literacy by raising awareness of the issue, promoting effective public advocacy and fostering a delivery system to maximize impact on the region. Every year we center our work on these areas; this year we had some great accomplishments and put many things into motion for the coming years. Great strides and growth were attained in the expansion of our STEP tutoring program. Our social media campaigns for Read Across America Day and International Literacy Day put the issue of low-literacy into the spotlight. Our 1st annual Corporate Spelling Bee was a fun and fantastic night that brought the issue of low literacy to members of the business community. We began working with a number of partner organizations to create contextualized curriculum for adult learners. This curriculum will help low-literate adults access the training programs designed to give them the skills to obtain jobs to help life them out of poverty. The following post is a recap of all that we worked on, accomplished and set into motion during this year. This is a highlight recap, for more information on a specific topic, program, event or campaign be sure to follow the links.

 In Early Literacy:

Children need a strong foundation in order to succeed in school. If they start school behind, they have to play catch-up from day one with their peers. Reading out loud to children every night is a simple task that can do so much to help children be ready to enter school. If children fall behind they need support to catch up and to get back on track to graduate on time. In 2016, we entered a formal partnership with Reach Out and Read to support the program and link families to other literacy partners. Our STEP pilot helped more children increase their reading levels.  Both programs are designed to help children reach their full potential and succeed in school. The use of high school and college students to deliver the structured plan has additional benefits.

 

STEP:

STEP (Supporting Tutors Engaging Pupils) is a volunteer based tutoring intervention developed by The Literacy Cooperative and a group of community literacy programs. The program is designed to structure the volunteer reading intervention in order to build reading and language skills in K-3 students who are below grade level in reading. The STEP model includes a strategic design, training of the volunteers, and the on-site presence of an educator to oversee the tutoring.

For the 2016-2017 school year, STEP will again continue to be facilitated in three school systems, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Euclid, and Warrensville City School systems and included a formal relationship with John Carroll University (JCU). JCU provides student volunteers through their work-study program at two of our sites.

Over the year 2015-2016 school year, STEP served 61 scholars and trained 40 literacy volunteers, 25 of which were high school students. Over the year thirteen scholars achieved grade level or above, 32 scholars improved by 9-12 months and 16 grew 4-6 months. Our STEP program aims to help kids who have fallen behind get back on grade level so that they can succeed in school and graduate on time.

 

Reach Out and Read:

Reach Out and Read is an organization we have always supported throughout the years and this year started becoming more involved in. “Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together,” as stated on their website. It makes use of the bond and trust created between a pediatrician and the family. Reading out loud to a child is a simple, yet extremely important step in the successful development of a child. The program provides books, tools and knowledge to parents to help them ensure that their children are ready to start school.

This year the Bruening Foundation facilitated and is funding a partnership between Reach Out and Read Greater Cleveland and The Literacy Cooperative. The goal is to maintain existing sites, explore opportunities to expand and to connect ROR to broader literacy initiatives. The first step was taken in September when we hired a Reach Out and Read coordinator, Lynn Foran. She is currently working to ensure that all sites have the books, training, and support they need to reach every child and parent with advise on the importance of reading aloud together and also connecting them to local literacy programs for further interaction.

 

Adult Literacy:

In Cuyahoga County there are 435,000 adults who read below an 8th grade reading level. To put that into perspective we could fill every seat in First Energy Stadium, Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena, Wolstein Center, Public Auditorium, Public Hall and Playhouse Square with the low-literate adults and there would still be 260,000 standing outside. These adults struggle to secure living-wage jobs because they lack the basic reading and math skills to enroll in the vocational training programs that would provide the skills employers are seeking. Low literate adults often spend more on healthcare because they can’t read medications or understand doctor’s suggestions. Their children are behind in school because they can’t help them with their school work.

Low-literacy in adults affects their entire family. We continuously work to bring awareness to this issue of low-literacy in adults and this year we began working on a pilot to create contextualized curriculum programs to help these adults gain the skills they need. Skills that will help them build successful lives for themselves and their families.

 

Talent NEO:

Talent NEO is coordinated by Towards Employment and is a regional initiative launched in Cuyahoga and Summit County. Talent NEO promotes and supports employer’s use of ‘skill scores’ as a point in their hiring process to increase the size of their applicant pool, improve retention rates and reduce costs.

TLC provides leadership and technical assistance to Talent NEO pilot by working with the Cuyahoga County upskilling locations. The upskilling locations work with individuals to increase their WorkKeys skill scores through classroom and computer-led instruction. When job seekers are below the required skill score levels, they can work with upskilling staff to engage in math and reading lessons to work to increase their scores. The tools and lessons have been contextualized to in-demand sectors such as healthcare and manufacturing. Contextualized curriculum uses authentic materials and activities that connect leaders to the occupation and industries they are interested in.

In its first year Talent Neo resulted in 1,461 participants completing WorkKeys assessments and 167 received upskilling services. These upskilling sessions were provided at 5 different locations throughout Cuyahoga County.

 

Advocacy and Awareness:

To understand an issue people need to know that one exists. Low-literacy is an issue that many do not understand the scope of. With our social media campaigns and events we strive to provide a voice to this issue. We use these campaigns and events to bring literacy into the spotlight and hold it in people’s minds. We spent the year increasing the awareness of the low-literacy issue so that more people understand why it is necessary for them to help and fight alongside us.

 

Read Across America Day:

Read Across America Day is a nationwide reading celebration that takes place on March 2nd each year. It coincides with Dr. Seuss’s birthday and is a day to celebrate, not only his life and work, but also the importance of reading. This year we took part in this celebration by asking citizens to snap a picture of themselves reading in groups and post it to their social media profiles with #NEOReads. We had over a 100 pictures shared throughout the day. So many people participated including the Mayors of South Euclid and Rocky River, Councilman Brancatelli, State Representative Stephanie Howse and Joyce Betty the representative of Ohio’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. We loved seeing all the great pictures and we loved even more that the celebration extended beyond our hashtag campaign. It was a great day celebrating a beloved author and showcasing how important reading is for everyone. To see some pictures from the day be sure to check out our Storify.

 

CLE-BEE:

This year we started an annual tradition of holding a Corporate Spelling Bee to raise awareness not only about the work we do but also putting literacy in the spotlight while also having some fun. This year the bee was held on September 8th.  200 attendees cheered on 24 teams from across Northeast Ohio. The night was emceed by Betsy Kling, Chief Meteorologist from WKYC. Our readers were Mike Snyder, Sports Director from WTAM 1100 and Monyka Price, Chief of Education from City of Cleveland and the Honorable Judge John Russo was our judge. Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish attended and gave compelling speeches to start the night off.

The competition was fierce and fun with Baker Hostetler as the victors. It was a fantastic event that brought The Literacy Cooperative into the spotlight and raised awareness about literacy.

If you would like to read a recap of the event be sure to check out our blog post. If you want to see the event through pictures our Storify has a fun recap for you. Or if you would prefer to watch the event for yourself be sure to check the video on our YouTube channel.

We are already planning our bee for 2017. If you would like to join in the fun contact Elaine Yeip at eyeip@literacycooperative.org for team registration information.

 

International Literacy Day:

International Literacy Day is another day where we use a hashtag picture campaign to raise awareness and get people involved and talking. International Literacy Day falls on September 8th and is a day where the world comes together to raise awareness about literacy and reading. Our theme for our campaign this year was “Recommended Reads.”  We asked everyone to take a picture of themselves with a book that they would recommend for others to read and to use #CLEReads2016 and #RecommendReads to show off the choices. Again we had great participation, including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Connie Schultz. During the CLE-BEE we also set up a selfie station where we got some great recommendations from attendees.

If you would like to see all the great pictures check out our Storify and if you are looking for a book to read be sure to check out the blog post with all the recommendations.

 

Bridge Builders:

During the winter and spring months we worked with the Cleveland Bridge Builders to highlight literacy programs throughout the city. Cleveland Bridge Builders is a program that prepares mid-career professionals of all ages for meaningful, fulfilling and impactful engagement in the community.

We reached out to a number of organizations and asked them to write a guest blog post about their program and future goals. The organizations that participated were Parma Adult Education program, Reach Out and Read/Ready to Learn from MetroHealth, The Children’s Museum of Cleveland, Playhouse Square, Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland and America Scores Cleveland. Each post gave a snap shot of the variety of literacy programs that can be found throughout our city, some from organizations that many may not have known about before.

To wrap up the campaign a PechaKucha event was held to highlight the organizations. A PechaKecha event is Powerpoint presentation format where someone presents on 20 slides for 20 seconds each. This quick format provides an opportunity to hear many different presenters in one evening. It is a great way to give people a glance at the information and spark their interest to find out more.

The event “Helping to Improve Awareness and Literacy Education in Northeast Ohio,” was held on May 26th of this year. We had some thought provoking presentations from: University Circle Incorporated, America SCORES Cleveland, Reach Out and Read/Ready to Learn MetroHealth, Playhouse Square, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Kids Book Bank, Parma City School District as well as our own executive director Bob Paponetti. The night was a great opportunity for a variety of organizations to come together and to learn more about the literacy programming that is available throughout Cleveland. See some pictures of the event in our Storify.

 

 Professional Development:

Every year we offer a number of professional development workshops for teachers. In 2016, 500 attendees attended 21 professional development sessions and 3 Literacy Learning Network sessions. These sessions always cover a range of topics. This year there were sessions on web-based resources, reading strategies for low-level learners, teaching grammar to English language learners, flexibility in the workplace as well as STEP-UP to quality sessions for early childhood education instructors and many more. This year we also co-sponsored a number of sessions with other organizations such as Seeds of Literacy, WVIZ/PBS Ideastream, The Salvation Army and the Refugees Salvation Collaboration. These sessions are free and aim to provide teachers with some new strategies and ideas to use in their classrooms.

 

Teacher Academy:

This year was our 6th annual Teacher Academy. Every year we hold a professional development retreat day where the goal is to learn best practices from the best resource possible, fellow teachers.

This year was the largest academy we have had to date with more than 100 K-2 teachers and administrators from CMSD and 14 First-Ring School Districts. 20 peer presenters from 10 school districts presented on topics varying from Looping and community engagement to STEM technology and reading and writing. We hope teachers attend the day looking to learn something and walk away with new ideas and new relationships with fellow teachers.

 

Speaking Engagements:

Each year we try to take part in a number of speaking engagements in order to get our message out about who we are and what we do to a larger audience as well as to build connections and share our knowledge and ideas with others.

At the Commission of Adult Basic Education (COABE) conference in Dallas, Texas, Bob Paponetti, our Executive Director and Laurie Atkins, Director of Adult Learning and Career Pathways, presented three different sessions. Bob presented as part of a panel to discuss ways for adult educators to get involved in the implantation of WIOA in their local areas. Laurie presented with representatives from Parma Adult Education, NewBridge, and Project Learn of Summit to showcase the Healthcare Contextualized Curriculum pilot at NewBridge.  Bob and Laurie presented a session on advocacy and awareness detailing the strategy TLC has used in the community in the past two years.

Laurie attended the National Skills Coalition Skills Summit in Washington, DC in February.  As part of the summit, Laurie and the Ohio Delegation went to Capitol Hill to meet with the Ohio U.S. Senators and Representatives.  The message to them was to increase adult education funding, support Ohio’s comprehensive case management pilot that connects TANF and WIOA programs to deliver better services to 18-24 year olds, and to support education and training pathways for TANF participants. As a result, adult education funding did receive a small increase, Ohio received all necessary waivers to implement the case management pilot, and there is increased interest in connecting TANF and low-level learners to education and training pathways.

 

That is a recap of our busy 2016. Our vision is to ensure that all children and adults in Greater Cleveland will reach their highest literacy potential for employment, self-sufficiency and life-long learning. Throughout 2016 we tried to do exactly that with the variety of events we held, campaigns we took part in and through the program and organizations we have supported. It was a year full of hard work that will continue on into 2017. If you would like to help us continue to work towards our vision and mission you can donate here, any and all donations are appreciated!

Help us to continue to fight the low-literacy crisis in Greater Cleveland this #GivingTuesday!

sun_swooshAt The Literacy Cooperative, our mission is to work to advance literacy by raising awareness of the issue, promoting effective public advocacy and fostering a delivery system with maximum impact on the region. This #GivingTuesday we need your help to be able to continue to fulfill our mission.

In Cuyahoga County 435,000 adults read below an 8th grade level. To put that into perspective, we could fill every seat at First Energy Stadium, Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena, Wolstein Center, Public Auditorium, Public Hall and Playhouse Square with Cuyahoga County’s low-literate adults and there would still be 260,000 people left standing in the street. Many adults are unable to read bus schedules, medicine labels, nutritional information or their children’s homework. Making it difficult for them to find jobs, to keep themselves and their families healthy and for them to help their children succeed in their education.

Children who are born to illiterate or low-literate parents are less likely to be read to or spoken to at a young age. This creates a word gap from the very beginning of a child’s life. In 1995, Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley found that low-income children are exposed to 30 million fewer words than their higher-income peers before age 3. These children are behind from the very beginning of their lives.

There are communities in Cuyahoga County where more than 80% of children entering kindergartners are not academically prepared for school. From the very start, these children are facing an immense challenge — they start school having to play catch up in order to succeed in school. They have limited time to close this gap. By the end of third grade, children are reading to learn instead of learning to read and if they are not proficient readers by that point it becomes much more difficult for them to catch up to their peers.  One in six children who are not reading proficiently by third grade will not graduate high school on time. These children are more at risk of dropping out of school and becoming part of a cycle that becomes difficult to break.

Children need to be exposed to literacy and learning from a young age. When parents are engaged in their child’s education, their children are more likely to get good grades, have fewer behavioral problems and are more likely to graduate on time. Unfortunately, this becomes difficult for low-literate parents. They are challenged to engage with their children’s schooling and therefore are unable to help them succeed academically.

The Literacy Cooperative is uniquely qualified to maximize the opportunities and provide the literacy leadership needed for real system change. For the last 10 years, The Literacy Cooperative has worked to improve literacy in the Greater Cleveland area. We concentrate our efforts in 3 focus areas, Early Literacy, Adult Literacy and Career Pathways, and Parent Engagement. With our 3 focus areas we cover all the areas of literacy, maximizing our efforts to help Greater Cleveland citizens improve their lives and thus help improve the community.

In the last 10 years, we have helped parents to be their child’s first teacher using SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to fullerton-1Assure Ready Kids in Cuyahoga County).  We are coordinating our community’s Reach Out and Read program to help new parents understand the importance of reading to their children daily and connecting them with infant and toddler programs to help in the learning process. Using an evidence based program, STEP, Supporting Tutors, Engaging Pupils, we trained hundreds of tutors to use structured lesson plans to assist children struggling with reading. We continuously advocate for adult literacy services connected to career pathways to allow low-literate adults to engage in training and employment that leads to family-sustaining wages.  That’s why we are leading a partnership with northeast Ohio adult education providers and workforce development agencies to develop and implement contextualized curriculum programs in the Manufacturing, Healthcare, Hospitality and IT sectors.  We advocate for the increase of adult and early literacy funding and stronger policies that provide greater opportunities for our low-literate residents to receive support and wrap around services to succeed. We partake in days like International Literacy Day and Read Across America day to bring awareness to the importance of literacy. To learn more about our work, be sure to take a look at our website or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

To continue to be an agent of change, The Literacy Cooperative needs your help. On Tuesday, November 29th, #GivingTuesday we are asking you to support our work with a contribution.

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving back to the community celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. #GivingTuesday was started in 2012 and was created to offset the intense shopping of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. People across the world come together to support and contribute to worthy causes and organizations. On Tuesday, November 29th we are asking for you to make a donation through our GiveGab page or through the donation button on our Facebook page. Through your generous support, we will be able to continue to fight the low-literacy crisis in Greater Cleveland.

What Are Your Book Recommendations?

international-literacy-day-2016-collage

 What books would you recommend for others to read? Do you have a favorite book or author? We asked the same questions on September 8th in celebration of International Literacy Day.

International Literacy is a day that was created by UNESCO (United Nation Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to raise awareness about the importance of literacy. For the last three years we here at The Literacy Cooperative, along with the Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library and WKYC have conducted a social media campaign to celebrate the day. Each year we ask Greater Clevelanders to participate by posting a reading selfie with a book around a certain theme.

This year’s the theme was, “Recommended Reads.” We asked everyone to snap a picture of themselves reading a book that they would recommend others to read and then post it to their social media accounts with #CLEReads2016 and #RecommendedReads. Throughout the day we got a number of great pictures and some great book recommendations.

Cleveland mayor, Mayor Frank Jackson, recommended Listening In, The Secret White House Recording of John F. Kennedy, by Caroline Kennedy and Ted Widmer. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish recommended, It’s All About Who You Hire, How They Lead, by Marten Mandel. We had council members take part as well. Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland recommended, A Fortune-Teller Told Me, by Tiziana Terzani. Even Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Connie Shultz took part and recommended Dark Money, by Jane Mayer. To see all the great pictures and for a summary of the whole day be sure to check out our Storify.

Everyone can use a new book to read or a new author to try. Take a look at the tables below for all the book recommendations from International Literacy Day. See if any spark your interest and add them to your bookshelf!

International Literacy Day was a great day to raise awareness about the crisis in adult literacy. However, one day is not enough do justice to this issue. Being a voice for literacy, early and adult, is something that needs to be done all year long.

This week (Sept. 26 – Oct 1st) is Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. It is a week to raise awareness about the need and value of adult education and family literacy (Read more about this important week here).

Instead of recommending a book to others this week, try to recommend articles, blogs, websites, and research papers that focus on the need for advancing literacy. This week would be a great time to read up on adult education and family literacy; to learn why it is being done, what needs to be done, and the impact it has on every part of the community.

COABE’s (Commission on Adult Basic Education) site has some great research reports detailing the impact of literacy on the economy. They have a great section on Adult Education and Family Literacy Week with a number of statistics to share through social media and in communication to elected officials.

ProLiteracy is another site we recommend for learning about the needs and movements in adult education. Their site has a number of great resources and a number of white papers ranging in topics from “Literacy and Women’s Health,” to a “Workplace Literacy Guide.” They also have a blog where they frequently post about the impact of literacy and even student success stories.

Of course The Literacy Cooperative is a great resource that assists the community in advocating and advancing literacy.  Our website includes articles and links to the latest information and research on the best and promising practices for early literacy and adult education initiatives.  Be sure to check out our website.

Do you have any articles or website you would recommend for others to read and learn more about the importance of adult education and family literacy? Be sure to leave a comment with your suggestions below.  And be sure to share your recommendations on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with #CLEReads2016.

Fiction TitlesAuthor
Ready Player OneErnest Cline
The Art of Racing in the RainGarth Stein
We Are the AntsShaun David Hutchinson
Innocent in DeathJ.D. Robb
MotiveJonathan Kellerman
Where'd You Go- Bernadette?Maria Semple
Harry Potter SeriesJ.K. Rowling
Ariel: The Restored Edition, a Facsimile of Plath's Manuscript, Reinstating Her Original Selection and ArrangementSlyvia Plath
WatchmenAlan Moore
2 A.M. at The Cat's PajamasMarie-Helene Bertino
CentennialJames Michener
Batman: The Caped Crusader of Gotham City
The Good EarthPearl S. Buck
The Shoemaker's WifeAdriana Trigiani
Ana Dressed in BloodKendra Blake
Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston
Another CountryJames Baldwin
Little House on the PrarieLaura Ingles Wilder
The Complete Calvin and HobbesBill Waterson
Sigma Force SeriesJames Rollins
The Night CircusErin Morgenstern
A Darker Shade of MagicV.E. Schwab
Six of CrowsLeigh Bardugo
A Wrinkle in TimeMadeleine L'Engle
I'll Give You the SunJanay Nelson
East of EdenJohn Steinbeck
Mortal Instruments SeriesCassandra Clare
Nonfiction TitlesAuthor
The Image of America Series
Cleveland Cops - The Real Stories They Tell Each OtherJohn Tidyman
Things That MatterCharles Krauthammer
Join the ClubTina Rosenberg
The Gentleman of OhioLouis Stokes
UnflatteningNick Sousanis
Badge 386Rob Sberna
Between the World & MeTa-Nehisi Coates
Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in HistoryErik Larson
The Boys in the BoatDaniel James Brown
Off the Radar Cyrus Copeland
Bob Dylan chronicles (Volume 1)Bob Dylan
Atlantic: Great Sea Battles; Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms and Vast Ocean of a Million StoriesSimon Winchester
Strategize to Win Carla A. Harris
Blue Plate SpecialKate Christensen
The Purpose Driven LifeRick Warren
Harold: The Boy Who Became Mark TwainHal Holbrook
Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First LadyJ.B. West
Bible and Jesus CallingSarah Young
Dog SpeakBash Dibra
Bill O' Reilly's Legends and Lies: The PatriotsBill O'Reilly
Meet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to find the Sunken CityMark Adams
Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Books Selection from the American Museum of Natural History LibraryTom Baione
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the WorldVicki Myron
1,000 Places to See Before You DiePatricia Shultz
A Fortune Teller Told MeTiziana Terzani
Children's Book TitlesAuthor
Cat HeavenCynthia Rylant
JourneyAaron Backer
Princess AcademyShannon Hale
Gone Crazy in AlabamaRita Williams
Where the Wild Things AreMaurice Sendak
I Love You, Stinky FaceLisa McCourt
Horton Hears a WhoDr. Seuss
The Peculiar Night of the Blue HeartLauren DeStefano
The Tooth BookDr. Seuss
The FInd it BookMargaret Wise Brown
Mr. Lemoncello's Library OlmpicsChris Grabenstein
Mater Save ChristmasKeil Murray
Lola at the LibraryAna McQuinn
Ohio/Cleveland Authors
Margaret Bernstein
Cinda Williams
Tricia Springstubb
Micheal Salinger
Brad Ricca
Sarah Willis
James Renner
Les Roberts
Toni Morrison
Casey Daniels
John Stark Bellamy
Rob Smith
Lisa Black (A.K.A. Elizabeth Becka)
Richard Montanari
D.M. Pulley
Terry Pluto
Connie Shultz
Regina Brett
Deborah Plummer

Adult Education and Family Literacy Week!

In America, there are 36 million adults who cannot read or write at the most basic level. More than 60 million adults lack the basic math skills necessary to work a cash register or understand a bus schedule. Unfortunately, the federal funds budgeted only reaches 1.5 million. Adult Education is an issue that needs to be focused on now.

Next week (September 26 – October 1) is National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. It is a week to raise awareness about the need and value of adult education and family literacy. This is an opportunity to elevate adult education and family literacy nationwide with policymakers, the media and the community.

The effect that an increase in adult education can have on a community is clear. Adult education gives the low literate and those without basic math skills a chance to find a job, launch a career, educate their own children and live healthier lives. The funding for adult education is a great return on investment; for every dollar invested in those services, a community gets back $60 in decreased welfare costs, tax revenue, and economic activity. It is clear that an increased awareness about the overwhelmingly positive impact of adult education services is needed.

Adult education does not only help low-literate adult to succeed and improve their lives but it also helps their children, families and communities. Children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading level themselves. They are more likely to get poor grades, display behavior problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years or drop out. By working to increase awareness about the importance of adult education we can put a stop to this cycle.

Communities tend to overlook low-literate adults because their focus is primarily on children. By showing the cascading effect low-literacy in adults has on children and in consequence the community, you help raise attention and prompt action. Showing your community the positive effect increased adult education has on children as well as adults you are able to show your community that supporting adult education is crucial to building a strong and resilient community.

Next week is your chance to get involved. There are a number of ways you can bring attention to this important issue. Do you work with adult learners who have stories of success that you think others need to hear? Do you work for an adult education services agency that has helped change a number of lives? If so this would be a perfect time to share your students’ stories or your agency’s story. Nothing helps spark action more than hearing first-hand how the services have helped someone change their lives.

You can share the stories with our local newspapers, radio stations or news outlets. Develop a pitch and send it out; reporters love to promote individual stories.

Get the attention of local and state officials. Next week you can work with your students on writing letters sharing their stories with their local and state representatives asking for them to ensure that adult education is one of their top priorities.  (Find out how to contact your officials and representatives here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials). These official’s see facts and figures all the time, putting a face and story to these numbers can help drive home the point of how important adult education is and how it can help citizens succeed and a community thrive.  More importantly, your students experience civic engagement and use their writing skills to help themselves and others.

Make our community aware of the issue at hand by writing an op-ed piece. Tell our community why adult education is important, explain how it effects not only adults but children as well, share stories and develop the case for why it needs increased resources and support. A well written piece can spark not only interest but action in the reader.

Another important way to participate in Adult Education and Family Literacy Week is by sharing facts and statistics. Many people are not aware of the issue and don’t understand why funding and resources are needed. Many don’t understand that low literacy skills are directly linked to inequality, high rates of unemployment, lower income and poor health or that adults from poorly educated families are 10 times more likely to have low skills. Most do not know that a mother’s reading level is the greatest determinant to her child’s academic success. COABE and ProLiteracy’s websites have a number of statistics that you can share via your social media or through an email fact sheet. People cannot help increase awareness and thus increase resources and support if they do not understand the problem. You can help enlighten your followers and raise your community’s consciousness about the issue.

Here are some sample tweets you could use next week, be sure to include #AEFLWeek:

Join us for #AEFLWeek (Sept. 26 – Oct. 1) and help raise awareness about the importance of adult education and family literacy.

            230 billion dollars a year in health costs is linked to low adult literacy #AEFLWeek

            36 million adults cannot read at the most basic level but federal funds only reach 1.5 million of these adults #AEFLWeek

Children of parents with low literacy have a 72% chance of being in the lowest reading level themselves #AEFLWeek.

            Literacy benefits adults: Higher salaries, better job opportunities, higher savings & improved working conditions. #AEFLWeek.

            435,000 Cuyahoga County adults read at or below a seventh grade level #AEFLWeek       

            2/3 of Cleveland children are not ready for kindergarten when they enter school. #AEFLWeek

            Neighborhoods like Hough, Central & Kinsman have functional illiteracy rates as high as 95% #AEFLWeek

Adult Education and Family Literacy Week is a week to raise awareness in order too leverage resources to support access to basic education for the millions of adults who need it. Next week is a chance for you to raise your voice and to help adult education get the attention and thus the support and resources it needs and deserves.

COABE and ProLiteracy’s websites have some great toolkits and resources to help you to make the most of Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. Also be sure to use #AEFLWeek to connect with a number of agencies and supporters throughout the country and to see how others are celebrating this important week.