OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., Dec. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Oklahoma City Public Schools has begun implementing an early childhood literacy and family engagement program in its elementary schools that aims to develop long-term reading habits among children in Oklahoma City. The program is being funded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and former Oklahoma City resident Thurman White and his wife Eileen and was designed by Raising A Reader, a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and guidance for families to implement home-based literacy routines.
Approximately 60 percent of children in the United States fail to read proficiently by third grade due in part to lack of books in the home and family engagement. Research indicates if a child is not reading at grade level by the third grade it will likely result in long-term academic failure.
The initial six elementary schools participating in the program are Spencer, F.D. Moon, Martin Luther King, Thelma R. Parks, Green Pastures and Edwards. Every year more than 4,000 books will be circulated to over 1,000 pre-K, kindergarten, first and second-grade children in 47 classrooms. During the first five years, the program is expected to impact more than 5,000 Oklahoma City families.
In addition to weekly book rotations, Raising A Reader is providing training to more than 35 local elementary school teachers as well as an orientation and program materials for parents. The Oklahoma City School's Early Childhood Department is making the Raising A Reader program the sole homework assignment Monday through Thursday in the six schools.
"Thanks to both his financial support and commitment to literacy, Thurman and Eileen White are making a measurable difference in the lives and success of Oklahoma City's children," said Michelle Torgerson, president and CEO of Raising A Reader. "This initiative will create a long-lasting legacy that will impact children for generations to come."
The Raising A Reader program is evidence-based, with 34 independent evaluations showing that Raising A Reader significantly improves language and literacy skills, cognitive development, communication and comprehension skills, school readiness and social competence. The program is implemented through a network of community partners that comprise more than 3,000 locations across the country including public school systems, libraries, afterschool programs, community agencies, and other organizations both public and private.
"I have succeeded throughout my life because I was encouraged to read at an early age and I am grateful for the support my family and Oklahoma City Public Schools provided me," said Thurman White. "50 years after graduating from Oklahoma City's Douglas High School, this is my way of saying 'thank you' and giving back to hopefully break the cycle of poverty and provide these students with enhanced reading and supplementary educational opportunities. I believe Raising A Reader's program is a big part of the solution."
Raising A Reader is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to helping families develop, practice, and maintain literacy habits for children ages 0-8 that are critical for a child's success in school and in life. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Raising A Reader was founded in 1999 and has served more than 1.6 million children nationwide. More information is available at www.RaisingAReader.org. Follow on Twitter @RARnational, Facebook at RaisingAReaderNational and Instagram at raising_a_reader.
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SOURCE Raising A Reader