Op-Ed from James Pond: Literacy Month shines a light on our responsibility to kids

September 8, 2021

You’re reading this because you learned to read. September is Tennessee Literacy Month, and we need this focus on reading more than ever.

Less than 1/3 of Tennessee third graders read proficiently. Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) 2021 scores show that disruptions to education during the COVID-19 pandemic led to significant student learning loss. Third-grade reading proficiency dropped by five percentage points from 2019.

It’s more important than ever to strengthen early literacy, and we can help do that by encouraging children to read and giving them access to quality resources outside of the classroom.

Start by reading to children, right from birth. Here are some good tips:

  • When reading to children from 0-5 years old, point out interesting pictures, use different voices, and ask questions.
  • For parents and caregivers with children from kindergarten to third grade, encourage your children to continue reading when they are not at school.
  • Most important, take advantage of all the free resources GELF has to offer, like its Birth-5 and K-3 Book Delivery programs, learning tips via text message for caregivers, Book Buses that serve as rolling libraries, and Storybook Trails that bring classic stories to life in outdoor settings. For more information on these programs, how to get involved and how to make a donation, visit governorsfoundation.org.

We are fortunate to live in a state that invests in literacy resources to ensure our early learners are given every opportunity to become proficient readers by third grade. But that can only happen if we make reading a priority in every Tennessee home.

It’s more than books. It’s the future of Tennessee.