TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Books take children wherever they want to go.
Reading is key to unlocking a magical world of dreaming, learning, and exploring, unfortunately, 42 percent of third-graders in Florida are reading below grade level.
We're taking a look a childhood literacy and why it's so vital that every child has access to books.
Literacy is the great equalizer.
"Research has shown us how very important it is to read to children and read to them early on because those students that have access to words, language and vocabulary fair better in school," said Cheron Davis, Ph.D., an associate professor at Florida A&M University College of Education. "It's very important that we put books in the hands of children."
Poverty is directly correlated with literacy.
"Anytime children don't have access to books, we know that those children who enter school with fewer words, having not been exposed to books, having not been exposed to language, they suffer in the classroom," Davis said.
In Title 1 schools, like John G Riley Elementary School in Tallahassee, many students have never even owned a book and there are no books in their home.
But that's changing.
For the second year, ABC 27's If You Give a Child a Book Campaign is raising money so that each child at Riley gets two brand new books of their very own.
"They go home and they read to their siblings or they are even trading books with their friends, which I find very awesome," said April Knight, the principal at John G. Riley Elementary School. "Where they could be doing other things, they are taking a book, opening it up and they are learning new things and having adventures."
Davis says the foundation for literacy starts at home.
"As early as we can get books into children's hands, as early as we can get them reading, as early as we can get parents involved in literacy with them the better," Davis said.
If you can read you can do anything.
"That's the magic of literacy," said Davis. "And who are we to deny that to anyone in our community? This is our future and if we don't give them access to that and we don't give them access to books so they can be full citizens we're going to be in trouble."
We want to help students at Riley Elementary grow their home book collections, but we need your help!
We're asking you to donate to our If You Give a Child a Book Childhood Literacy Campaign.
Monday and Tuesday we're matching donations up to $5,000.
Every dollar you donate will go towards providing books for the 500 students who attend Riley Elementary!
Donating is easy! Just click here.