PHILADELPHIA, July 7, 2015 – At a news conference held at Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center, State Senator Art Haywood joined with education advocates to encourage a reading revolution with the launch of two new READ! by 4th Sites in Northwest Philadelphia.

“Early childhood literacy is the backbone to lifelong opportunity and freedom.” Haywood said “Reading opens doors to higher education and self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, most elementary school students in the Philadelphia neighborhoods of my district read below grade level. What our communities need is a reading revolution that gives these children freedom through reading.”

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PSSA scores show that the majority of 3rd grade students in Philadelphia public schools do not read proficiently.  Children who do not read proficiently by 4th grade are four times more likely to drop out of school than those who do, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The United Nations reports that higher levels of literacy increase self-esteem, empowerment and political participation.

“We must work together as a community to address this reading crisis,” Haywood said, joined by representatives from the Free Library of Philadelphia, AARP Experience Corp and Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center. “A reading revolution will require dedicated tutors, as well as after-school and summer reading programs with the books and supplies to keep reading in focus all year long. I am glad to see this kind of effort here in Northwest Philadelphia with two new READ! by 4th sites.”

The READ! by 4th program is a citywide effort coordinated by the Free Library of Philadelphia in collaboration with more than fifty partners at 100 sites across the city. The program’s goal is to increase the number of students in Philadelphia entering the 4th grade at reading level by 2020.

The new summer reading programs, held at Dorothy Emanuel and Simons Recreation Centers, began on July 6th and will last six weeks. Tutors from AARP Experience Corps are connecting children and their parents with new skills, books and resources at local branches of the Free Library. The programs, integrated into summer camps held at the recreation centers, aim to foster a lifelong love of reading in children grades K-3.

“These new READ! by 4th sites are just the beginning of what I hope will become a reading revolution across our city, state and country,” said Haywood. “Reading plays a critical role in building our communities. Our communities must play a more active role in building reading.”




Contact: Melissa Ostroff