Local charity ‘Start Reading Now’ aims to develop a love of reading in kids

This was Hmong International Academy’s 6th book fair. These 1st graders were great! The girl on the lower left with her backpack pulled up was sooooo excited while we gave the presentation she could hardly control herself. It was awesome!

Here at Center of the American Experiment, we advocate for free-market solutions. When free enterprise hasn’t developed a remedy to a tough problem facing society, government programs are too frequently pushed as the answer. We argue private charity should play a larger role, and would often do a better job helping those who need it.

One perennial problem facing Minnesota’s kids is low reading proficiency, particularly when the students live in low-income households. The latest state assessments found only 56% of fourth-graders are proficient in reading. That number drops to 32% for black students and 34% for Hispanic students.

State legislators have been trying to solve on this problem for years, to no avail, so private charities are stepping up. One of these charities, Start Reading Now, has a very simple mission: Help low-income kids create a home library of books to promote reading and set them up for success in school and life.

Start Reading Now held its annual book fairs this week, gifting 4,300 Minneapolis Public School kids in the highest poverty schools with 10 brand new books each. That adds up to a lot of summer reading!

Most of us can remember how great it felt as a kid to get a brand new book: the smell of the paper, the crisp new pages, the glossy cover. We couldn’t wait to snuggle up in a big chair and read it for the first time. It was like going on an adventure!

Start Reading Now follows the students they serve through three grade levels, providing them with ten new books a year, or thirty books by third grade. The kids get to pick out the books themselves, which makes it even more likely they’ll be excited to read them.

To demonstrate the enthusiasm these kids have for reading, one student shared he’s been waiting all year to get the sequel to the book he picked out last year. Another said he couldn’t wait to read allllll summer!

Learn more about Start Reading Now by visiting their website, liking their Facebook page, and following them on Twitter. Also, consider sponsoring a child at next year’s book fair for only $50!