The American Library Association defines literacy as the ability to use “printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.” The development of literacy skills is crucial in a child’s academic trajectory, especially during early childhood and elementary school years. Exposure to language and reading builds vocabulary and sets the stage for future learning and academic achievement.
Studies show that the end of third grade is a critical milestone for students. Up to that point, the curriculum focuses on teaching students to learn to read. In fourth grade, students transition to reading in order to learn. If students can’t read, they can’t learn, and they fall further and further behind—which forces them onto a nearly inescapable path to poverty. The door of opportunity closes on them when they are barely four feet tall!