At one year old, Isabella Higgins may not be able to read just yet but her dad, Noah, knows she can comprehend the power of words on a page.
“It does create some comprehension as to ‘this is something we do and it’s enjoyable,’” Noah said.
Whether it’s a classic novel, fairy tale, or mystery, reading helps kids learn new words and new ways to express themselves.
“My hope is she’ll be reading on her own and reading more works and digesting more information and having a general curiosity for everything,” Noah said.
Not every child in this country is as fortunate as young Isabella. By some estimates, 25 million children in the U.S. can’t read proficiently.
That is where the “If You Give A Child A Book" campaign is trying to change things. For the last seven years, the effort has been led by the Scripps Howard Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the E.W. Scripps Company.
“One of the greatest predictors of a child’s success is the number of books they have in their home,” said Meredith Delaney, who helps coordinate the project.
Since 2016, the “If You Give a Child a Book" campaign has tried to get as many books as possible into the hands of kids who otherwise can’t afford them.
“Making sure kids have access to books is just so important because books can provide an escape, they can provide an escape from reality,” Delaney added.
Since its inception, the project has helped to distribute 877,000 books to kids in low-income households across the country. To date, 73 Title I schools in 45 cities have received donations. A donation of $5 helps buy one book for a child in need. So far, the campaign has raised $2.4 million.
For principals like Tara Bell, whose school has benefited directly from the donations, the impact has been profound.
“We have kids in our building who may not have any books at home and we’re teaching them reading skills, and if they don’t have books at home, they don’t have a way to practice,” Bell said.