FLIP for Literacy

reading_tub_web20 Literacy isn’t a Norman Rockwell painting! It is a living, breathing part of our daily lives. Sorting and opening the mail, sending an email … they are all pieces of literacy that our kids observe.

~ Terry Doherty, Executive Director

Reading books with a child is crucial to their future success, but it is just one part of the path to achieving literacy success. Writing, critical thinking, and communication skills are each part of the process. Like reading, these are also learned skills.

These staggering numbers are all too familiar. They are the key findings that surface in study after study, for the past several decades:

  • Low literacy strongly correlates to crime, with 70% of prisoners testing at the lowest two levels of reading proficiency.
  • 66% of all U.S. fourth graders scored “below proficient” on the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reading test, meaning that they are not reading at grade level. These students will end up in jail or on welfare.
  • $225 million of our tax dollars are spent on unemployment benefits, lost taxes, and crime. Those costs are directly related to illiteracy.
  • When parents are involved with their child’s school, reading comprehension is 28% above the national average. Where parent involvement is low, the classroom average reading score is 46 points below the national average.
  • A study found only 358 reading resources available for a population of approximately 7,000 children in impoverished neighborhoods, compared to 16,453 resources to every 1,200 children in neighborhoods of privilege.

singlemost-important-factorThere are many more statistics, each as [sad, frustrating, anger-inducing, stark – pick your word] as the ones I’ve cited here. We need these analyses to understand patterns and to present data that decision and policy makers can use in facilitating change. In and of themselves, though, they don’t engender change.

Change comes with action and involvement, not just for children, but for parents as well. The Reading Tub’s Family Literacy Integration Project (FLIP) is an initiative to give under-served families literacy tools where and when they need them.

  • Action: FLIP will leverage technology to create an App for and for use by struggling readers.
  • Involvement: Give non-reading, and struggling-reader adults tools they can use to help their children.

When parents are involved with their child’s school, reading comprehension is 28 points above the national average.

[When parental involvement is low, the scores are 48 points below the national average.

Literacy Research = Better Family Literacy

One of the points of RIF’s literacy research is the importance of engaging parents in the reading circle.

The Reading Tub’s FLIP app will provide, for free, immediate access to activities, exercises, tips, and articles so that parents can find literacy activities that work for them during short breaks on the job, and then use those tips when they’re out and about with the kids: doctors’ offices, the grocery store, even road trips!

Why will FLIP work? Because users don’t need to know how to read to use it, and it works on a device they already own. Smart phone access is quickly surpassing broad band internet access even among those living near the poverty level. More than 80 percent of those living in poverty have and use a smartphone to access the Internet.

With FLIP, the Reading Tub will have the ability to respond to the growing demand to improve literacy in a way that supports this change and improves access to family literacy tools. The foundation of our Family Literacy Integration Project (FLIP) is to bring together literacy activities and tips with an audio / image-driven, free App that is accessible to readers of all levels.

What are the challenges to helping others with literacy?

Poverty, access to reading material at home, flaws in educational systems, and even a student’s ability to mask their (lack of) skills, all play a part in the situation we face today: $225 million / year in taxes is spend on illiteracy-related costs: unemployment benefits, lost taxes, and crime. Illiteracy limits individual success, strains community resources, and impacts our greater society.

The biggest challenge is meeting struggling reader adults where they are. The mom who can’t read already feels “inadequate” and probably a lot of other emotions related to self-esteem, as well as knowing just how much her personal success has been stymied.

The Reading Tub’s goal is to offer ideas on things she CAN do for her child and herself. She’s not going to visit a website to get book reviews; but she will likely use a free App that (through audio and video) guide her daily activities to make the most of literacy opportunities.

Helping children to establish strong reading skills early is important, and the most influential role models for learning to read are parents!

FLIP gives parents the tools to get involved in their chilld’s learning. The foundation of our Family Literacy Integration Project (FLIP) is to bring together literacy activities and tips with an audio / image-driven, free App that is accessible to readers of all levels.

About the Reading Tub

The Reading Tub has a simple mission: bring literacy home to families. Giving parents the tools and giving kids books must walk hand-in-hand. Reading Tub volunteers work to ensure that at-risk readers have access to books and that parents have the tools they need, presented in ways that are meaningful to them.

The Reading Tub is an all-volunteer nonprofit whose mission is to increase family reading and literacy. Volunteers work to address critical literacy issues facing families and children with a grassroots book donation program, in-depth book profiles and information campaigns aimed at building family reading time for at-risk readers.

Over the past 11 years, the Reading Tub grew from the seed of an innovative idea to help families to an outreach organziation that has distributed nearly 11,0000 books, published more than 2,500 book profiles, and coordinated youth community literacy work. In addition, volunteers write anc curate hundreds of articles on ways to make literacy an everyday part of families’ and children’s lives.


Expected Outcomes

With the Family Literacy Integration Project, the Reading Tub will better serve the needs of everyone involved in raising readers.

  • Families and caregivers benefit through improved search that “returns” both book-related content, literacy tips relevant to the age of their audience; and articles that explain literacy concepts in a way they can understand.
  • Educators and literacy specialists benefit with comprehensive access to content they don’t have time to search for all over the web: studies, analyses, and best practices articles; activities they can incorporate into their classroom or demonstrate to parents during parent-teacher meetings; and book recommendations (particularly read-alike lists and bilingual books that match the cultures of their students).
  • Volunteers will be able to dedicate more time to community-focused projects.

How Can I Help FLIP?

I’m so glad you asked! To make FLIP a reality requires funding.

You can help by sharing this post on social, re-Tweeting our posts, and sending an email to the people in your life who are as passionate about literacy and reading as you are: family, friends, and newsletter subscriber list, to name a few.

If you’re not sure what to say, send an email to Terry at thereadingtub [at] gmail [dot] com. She’ll be happy to help.