TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It all starts at birth, the skills to read. "So, we know that a child's brain growth is almost 90% complete by the age of 5. So, we know all the experiences that are happening with children before 5 are very important for kindergarten readiness," said Ally Baehr with Make Way for Books.
Baehr with Make Way for Books is part of the nonprofits mission to empower parents and remind them they already have what it takes.
"Simply by reading books to them, doing activities throughout the day, grocery shopping, playing outside all of those little experiences can be filled with the language rich environment," said Baehr.
That's extra important, especially in Arizona, where Baehr says literacy skills are low for many reasons. "We know that when children are coming from low income families they are often already behind when they start kindergarten because they're not getting those skills that they need at home."
Then there's our education system. "We also know that our education system in Arizona is highly under funded and we have a large teacher shortage," said Baehr.
And Baehr says there are even more problems. "The amount of funding available for intervention into the K-12 system is highly under funded as well," said Baehr.
So, that's where make way for books comes in to offer some help to families and teachers. "Because we know that those people are affecting lots of children and through their work they can make a big difference," said Baehr.
That includes an online program, Story School, for ages 3 to 5 you can go sign up through this link.
One of things you'll get is a backup with 20 brand new books.
Digging deeper, we looked into Arizona's reading crisis. Currently, only 4 in 10 students can read on grade level. That breaks down to 60% of our students that cannot read on grade level. Arizona also ranked 45th in the country on how well our children are reading.
Lydia Camarillo is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Lydia is no stranger to the Old Pueblo. She has been reporting in Tucson for more than a decade and has been involved in numerous projects highlighting folks in the community. Share your story ideas and important issues with Lydia by emailing email@example.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.