Why Literacy?

With the VPD having another one of their literacy events coming up on Tuesday, May 2nd, at Burton Elementary School, we got thinking about just what kind of an impact these types of events have on our community.  In 2016, PAL delivered over 1,800 books to kids in 2nd thru 5th grade throughout Clark County.  We are on track this year, to hand out even more books to our kids and here is why we are so excited by that prospect…

According to the US Dept. of Education, “61% of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children. While low-income children have, on average, four children’s books in their homes, a team of researchers concluded that nearly two-thirds of the low-income families they studied actually owned no books for their children.”* PAL and the officers we work with are helping to close this large gap and provide books for children to take home.  Having books that are their own gives kids the idea that “I’m a reader,” it becomes a piece of their identity and they are more likely to pursue further literacy-building activities.

It is fascinating to see just how much of an impact having books in their home has on children.  In fact, “the only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. An analysis of a national data set of nearly 100,000 United States school children found that access to printed materials—and not poverty—is the ‘critical variable affecting reading acquisition.’”* Often times “being of low-income” is thought to be the predicting behavioral variable on academic scores, so it is a huge eye-opener to see just how important access to print materials are regardless of this economic factor.

If you check our calendar, you’ll see that we have at least four more literacy events before the end of the school year here in Vancouver.  There is a reason we try to amp-up our literacy programs before the start of summer. “Children who receive and read free books over the summer experience the equivalent of attending three years of summer school—and the difference in fall reading scores is twice as high…”* There is no denying that the power of reading at home has a huge impact on overall learning.

Most people know that PAL’s mission starts with something about “positive relationships between police officers and youth” but the rest of the mission statement is just as important “through community based educational programs and recreational opportunities.” Why did we choose those things?  Because we want the best for all in our community, we don’t just want to maintain, we want to help this community thrive and grow.  All of our programs are backed by evidence like that shown above.  Our literacy program is built to help our kids achieve more than they think they can, give them a positive sense of identity as a learner, give them access to unlock who they can be and break down the barriers that may stand in their way.

If you would like further information on our literacy events, or would like to know how you can help make this program even better, contact our Executive Director, Jenny Thompson at 360-487-7487 or by email at jenny.thompson@cityofvancouver.us.


*Statistics and Quotes Provided by Scholastic at http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/face/pdf/research-compendium/access-to-books.pdf