How Newspapers Can Improve Literacy Rates

24 Aug How Newspapers Can Improve Literacy Rates

Whether you’re a small newspaper or big media company, all of us that live and breathe the written word have a vested interest in a literate public. Unfortunately, literacy rates in the U.S. are a major issue, especially in underprivileged communities.

According to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data, 80 percent of low-income fourth graders and 66 percent of all fourth graders are not proficient in reading. [4]

The statistics in your community may be similarly grim. A quick Google search will get you your local data.

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Why is the ability to read proficiently by fourth grade important? The Annie E. Casey Foundation report Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters and Early Warning Confirmed, the end of third grade marks the point when children transition from learning to read to using reading to learn other subjects. Children who read proficiently by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and to be economically successful in adulthood. [1]

Reading proficiency remains unacceptably low in an economic environment that requires increasing levels of education and skills. By 2020, the U.S. is expected to face a shortage of 1.5 million workers with college degrees but will have a surplus of 6 million individuals without a high school diploma who are unemployed because they lack necessary educational credentials. [2]

If we do not make sure all children gain the needed reading skills to be successful in school, their future educational and economic prospects will be dim, and our economy will lag.

So how can your paper contribute to solving this problem?

Well, the good news is that children who regularly read newspapers do better on reading tests. A page like Kids Scoop is a turnkey way for newspapers to provide a literacy resource for kids, families and even schools. It is an educationally sound youth page that gets kids reading the newspaper.

Added bonus! Sponsorship dollars

Here’s a little known fact: many local businesses and service clubs have money set aside specifically to benefit their communities known as sponsorship dollars. This means not only are you aiding literacy efforts with a kids’ education page, you’re also getting a new revenue stream.

So kids benefit from reading newspapers, community newspaper support kids and education and tap into sponsorship funds and funders get visibility they often can’t get with other philanthropic efforts. In short: it’s a WIN-WIN-WIN situation!

Newspapers win, Sponsors win and Kids win!

To find out how to get in-depth training on this topic and/or the weekly Kid Scoop page contact Dan Dalton at Content That Works Dan Dalton dan@contentthatworks.com.

[1] The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2013). Early Warning Confirmed: A Research Update on Third-Grade Reading. Baltimore, MD: Author. Retrieved from www. aecf.org; The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2010). Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters. Baltimore, MD: Author. Retrieved from www.aecf.org

[2] Manyika, J., et al. (2012, March). Help wanted: The future of work in advanced economies (discussion paper). Washington, DC: McKinsey Global Institute.

-Vicki Whiting, President of Kid Scoop

Vicki Whiting is the publisher, editor and founder of Kid Scoop, a weekly newspaper feature geared to children ages 7 to 12 that appears in over 300 newspapers with a combined circulation of more than 7.5 million. 

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