Did You Know?

Did you know that 65% of America’s fourth graders do not read at a proficient level? How about the fact that one out of six children who do not read at age level by the end of third grade will not graduate from high school?

It’s clear that many kids struggle with literacy. That’s why CLiF’s programs and book giveaways aim to help children develop a love of books at a young age. Studies show that when kids read more often for fun, they have a better chance of becoming strong readers.

But it’s parents and the other adults in children’s lives who can make the biggest difference.

At CLiF, we encourage parents to read aloud to their children beginning at birth.

We also strive to provide parents and adults with the necessary tools to inspire a love of reading and writing in children who are at a high risk of growing up with low literacy skills across New Hampshire and Vermont.

This is how we help:

  • We provide access to books at home, at school, and at libraries.
  • We show children that reading is fun and interesting.
  • We empower children to choose their own books.
  • We involve parents in reading with their children.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the role of books and reading in children’s lives. All the answers are taken from national research studies.

Why is access to books important?

Having books in the home has been proven to:

  • Improve a child’s reading performance.
  • Cause children to read more and for longer lengths of time.
  • Produce improved attitudes toward reading and learning among children. (1)

Children who live in print-rich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule. (2)

How CLiF Helps

CLiF increases the number of books in the homes of low-income, at-risk, and rural children through book donations across New Hampshire and Vermont. We also donate books to rural public libraries, school libraries, shelters, low-income housing, Head Starts, and other partner organizations.

CLiF also gives seminars to parents. In our seminars, parents learn why it is important to read aloud to their children beginning at birth. We also provide fun and easy ways to read aloud from picture books even if a parent isn’t a strong or confident reader.

Why is it beneficial to let children choose their own books?

When pupils were asked which book they had enjoyed most, 80% of them said that the one they had enjoyed most was the one they had selected themselves. (4)

Students who choose what they read and have an informal environment in which to read tend to be more motivated, read more and show greater language and literacy development. (5)

Teachers like to provide choice in the classroom because they believe that it increases motivation, effort and learning. (6)

How CLiF Helps

We give each child who attends a CLiF program the opportunity to choose his or her own books. We know that children have diverse interests, from wizards to detectives to deer hunting, so we bring a selection of hundreds of books to every CLiF event.

After most of our programs, each child in attendance chooses two books to take home and keep.

Why is it important for children to read for enjoyment?

Children and teenagers who read for pleasure on a daily or weekly basis score better on reading tests than infrequent readers. Frequent readers also score better on writing tests than non-readers or infrequent readers. (3)

How CLiF Helps

Our storytelling programs, writing workshops, and author/illustrator visits inspire children to find the fun, adventure, and pleasure in reading and writing. We also give free books to children and organizations to make sure children have plenty of exciting reading material.

Why is reading aloud with children important?

Reading aloud is the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading. (8)

Of all parent-child activities, reading aloud provides the richest exposure to language, so promotion of reading aloud, especially for children from more disadvantaged backgrounds, holds great promise for strengthening school readiness and laying a strong foundation for future educational success. (8)

The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life. (7)

83% of children surveyed say that they loved being read to. 85% say being read to is a special time together. (19)

How CLiF Helps

Our parent seminars help parent understand why they should read aloud to their children as often as possible. We also explain fun and easy ways to read aloud from picture books even if the parent isn’t a strong or confident reader.

Is family income a factor in whether or not children have books at home and are read to on a regular basis?

61% of low-income families have no age-appropriate books in their homes. (9)

Children from middle-income homes have on average 13 books per child. There is only one book for every 300 children in low-income neighborhoods. (10)

Fewer than half (48%) of young children in the U.S. are read to daily. The percentage of children read to daily drops even lower (to 36%) among low-income families, whose children face the highest risk of literacy problems.  (11)

Even among high-income families, however, more than two out of every five children are not read to daily. (11)

The average child growing up in a middle class family has been exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading. (12)

The average child growing up in a low-income family has only been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading. (12)

39% of children from Vermont and 26% from New Hampshire are from families at 200% below poverty level. (14)

How CLiF Helps

CLiF gives books directly to children from low-income, at-risk, and rural families. This increases the number of books they have at home.

We also donate books to rural public libraries, Head Start programs, low-income housing, shelters, elementary schools, and prisons. These donations increase the number of high-quality books that low-income, at-risk, and rural children can access on a regular basis.

CLiF also gives seminars to parents. In our seminars, parents learn why it is important to read aloud to their children beginning at birth. We also provide fun and easy ways to read aloud from picture books even if a parent isn’t a strong or confident reader.

Can low literacy skills affect a child’s future?

One in six children who are not reading proficiently in the third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. This rate is higher in children from low-income families and rural areas. (15)

68% of America’s fourth graders read at a below proficient level. 82% of those children are from low-income families. (16)

57% of fourth graders in Vermont and 57% in New Hampshire score below proficient in reading. 75% of those children are from low-income families. (17)

Among those who reach adulthood with the lowest level of literacy proficiency, 43% live in poverty. Among those who have strong literacy skills, only 4% live in poverty. (18)

How CLiF Helps

In addition to CLiF’s storytelling programs, writing workshops, author/illustrator visits, and book giveaways, our Year of the Book program is designed to enhance existing literacy programs in elementary schools. Year of the Book provides interactive literacy events, workshops, free books, and financial support to teachers and schools in towns with low testing scores and high percentages


  1. (Source: Reading Is Fundamental, Access to Print Materials Improves Children’s Reading: A Meta-Analysis of 108 Most Relevant Studies Shows Positive Impacts, 2010)
  2. (Source: Reach Out and Read, Reading Aloud to Children: The Evidence, Archives for Disease Control, 2008)
  3. (Source: National Endowment for the Arts, To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence, 2007)
  4. (Source: Gambrell, L.B. (1996). Creating classroom cultures that foster reading motivation. The Reading Teacher, 50.)
  5. (Source: Krashen, S. (1993). The Power of Reading. Englewood, Col.: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.)
  6. (Source: Flowerday, T. & Schraw, G. (2000). Teacher Beliefs About Instructional Choice: A phenomenological approach. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 141-153.(Please note that the information in the studies mentioned in footnotes 4, 5, and 6, came from Reading for Pleasure: A research overview done by the National Literacy Trust, November 2006.)
  7. (Source: Reach Out and Read, Archives of Disease in Childhood, Reading Aloud to Children:  The Evidence, 2008) 
  8. (Source: Reach Out and Read, Reading Across the Nation: A Chartbook, 2007)
  9. (Source: Reading Literacy in the United States: Findings from the IEA Reading Literacy Study, 1996.)
  10. (Source: Neuman, S., & Dickinson, D. (Eds.). (2006) Handbook of Early Literacy Research (Vol. 2).] 
  11. (Source: Reach Out and Read, Reading Across the Nation: A Chartbook, 2007)
  12. (Source: McQuillan, J. (1998). The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions. Heinemann. –pulled from the Reading Is Fundamental website)
  13. (Source: Betty Hart and Todd Risley, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children (Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing, 1996)
  14. (Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Center)
  15. (Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Double Jeopardy: How Third Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation, 2011)
  16. (Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Early Warning: Why Reading at the End of Third Grade Matters, 2010) [link: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/reports/readingmatters.aspx]
  17. (Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Center)
  18. (Source: Literacy in the Labor Force: Results from the National Adult Literacy Survey. National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, 1999.) [link: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=1999470]
  19. (Source: Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report 7th Edition: Read Aloud, 2018.) [link: https://www.scholastic.com/sites/readaloud/]