Updated: Mar 19, 2020
Last weekend I had the distinct honor to walk alongside our region’s leaders, advocates, and educators for the 6th Annual Walk4Literacy. Joining my Reading Partners Sacramento team, we journeyed four miles through Sacramento from McClatchy Park to Sacramento State University in an effort to raise awareness about our region and state’s literacy crisis.
Everyone from our local news sources, Reading Partners volunteers, and die-hard readers marched through the streets. Sac State President Robert Nelsen kicked the walk off with a rousing encouragement of early literacy for higher education success. Michael Minnick, Sacramento Unified School District Board of Education Area 4 Rep, hyped up the crowd with actionable steps to help your children read at home. In true 2019 style, he also captured a great selfie from the stage!
At every mile of the walk, I shared a new fact about literacy with Instagram:
45 million U.S. Adults are functionally illiterate, unable to read about a 5th grade level (The Literacy Project).
25% of California’s students are unable to perform basic reading skills (California Policy Center).
65% of low-income 4th grade students are not reading at grade level right here in Sacramento County. This fact was brought to us by our fearless Reading Partners Sac Executive Director, Rachel Minnick.
53% of Sacramento County students are unable to read at grade level (Literacy Report Card).
What struck me the most as I walked the four miles, was the amount and diversity of those participating. Everyone from young kids to a cute couple who reminded me of my grandparents came out with their own reasons for participating. Some were former educators or current volunteers with Reading Partners, and others were conservative mothers trying to give their kids more options in life. I walked quite a bit with one young woman who was a dog groomer, loved animals, and had experienced reading challenges as a child. Showing up in her rainbow socks and tutu, she had fun while sharing her story with me. I have to thank Cristina Bequer, Miss Desert Southland 2019 for walking with me and sharing her struggles with reading, and how an un-diagnosed medical issue created literacy challenges.
While I went home and took a nap after the walk, I was awestruck at the level of commitment so many other people had, with tangible advice for literacy. Whether you’re interested in public policy for literacy, teaching, volunteering with Reading Partners, or raising your children, there are so many ways to help students succeed. A few I heard were:
Identify all resources available to you and your student.
Understand that physical and mental health can have an effect on a child’s willingness and ability to read.
Have books at home, and encourage all family members to read and discuss their favorite books.
Start reading to your child the minute you are able to hold them. Our brains are sponges, and your child will absorb literacy skills.
I am so honored to be the Literacy Advocate for Reading Partners Sacramento and am proud to have walked alongside so many incredible people working to reduce illiteracy. But it cannot stop with a walk. Every day we need to read, encourage others, and engage with our community. If you’re looking to take actionable steps in solving our literacy crisis, sign up as a Reading Partners tutor today. All it takes is one hour per week to help encourage a child to Read, Dream, & Succeed™.
If you were unable to join me at the Walk, consider making a donation where proceeds benefit the Sacramento Public Library Foundation, aimed at reducing our illiteracy rates. http://walk4literacy.org/donate/
Go forth, and #ReadDreamSucceed™,