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Reading Checkup Guide

Helping Your Children Become Better Readers

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

America needs every child to read. Yet as we step forward into a new century, millions of our children are falling behind.

  • More than 40% of fourth-graders read below their grade level.*
  • An alarming 6.4 million children between kindergarten and third grade now face an illiterate future.**

That's why Reading Is Fundamental® (RIF®) is taking action to ensure that every child has a literate future. RIF is the nation's oldest and largest children's literacy organization and the leader in motivating children to read. Last year alone, more than 240,000 RIF volunteers brought new books to 3.5 million children utilizing a national network of community-based programs.

RIF developed this Reading Checkup Guide in consultation with some of America's leading educators and researchers. The guide is packed with practical advice about what you can do to nurture your children's emerging literacy skills and interest in reading.

A special thanks to Visa U.S.A. for reissuing this guide and continuing the "Read Me a Story" program—focusing national attention on the critical state of reading in America and helping to ensure that all our children become readers.  

William E. Trueheart, Ed.D.
President & CEO
Reading Is Fundamental, Inc.

* NAEP 1994 Reading Report Card for the Nation and the States, U.S. Department of Education, 1996.
** McKinsey & Company, Inc. Prepared for the Presidents' Summit for America's Future, 1996-7.

"Read Me a Story" Helps Inspire Children to Read

In the past, Visa's "Read Me a Story" national donation program has benefited Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). Dedicated to inspiring children to read, the program has raised more than $2 million—through Visa® card usage—to support children's literacy programs nationwide. And with the additional help of RIF volunteers, more than 4 million stories have been read to children as part of this worthy cause.

  1. A Note from from the American Academy of Pediatrics
  2. Babies and Toddlers
  3. Preschoolers - 3 to 5 years old
  4. Soon to Be Readers - Pre-Kinder to Grade 1
  5. Beginning Readers - Kindergarten to Grade 2
  6. Developing Readers - Grades 2 and 3
  7. Independent Readers - Age 3 and Up
  8. How to Nurture Readers
  9. How to Use Reading Check-Up

A Special Note from the American Academy of Pediatrics

As president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, I can tell you that you can make a difference by reading to your child.

Pediatricians are acutely aware of the role that reading plays in infant brain and child development. We strongly recommend that parents read to their children daily from six months of age.

Reading aloud to children helps stimulate brain development, yet only 50% of infants and toddlers are routinely read to by their parents.*

Make reading an important and pleasurable experience in your home. Reading with your child not only stimulates development of your child's brain, but also fuels a close emotional relationship between you and your child.

This "Read Me a Story" Reading Checkup Guide covers six stages of early reading development. It is designed to give you and other caring adults practical information about how to help your child grow up reading.

We applaud RIF for developing this guide and Visa for making it available again this year.

Joseph R. Zanga, M.D., F.A.A.P.
1997-98 President
American Academy of Pediatrics

* Starting Points, the 1994 report of the Carnegie Corporation.


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Last Updated: 13 February 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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