Top Literacy Statistics

Ferst Readers is an evidence informed-base program. The research is clear. Below are the statistics that inspire us every day to keep working to make a difference in the lives of children. For program-specific data, visit our Program Impact and Parent Survey pages. Look throughout our website and on our Facebook/Instagram pages for anecdotal support shared by our Ferst Readers families, volunteers, and partners.

 LStat 1

Why birth to five?

  1. By age 2, a child’s brain is as active as an adult’s, and by age 3, the brain is more than twice as active as an adult’s – and stays that way for the first 10 years of life.
  2. Cognitive processes develop rapidly in the first few years of life. In fact, by age 3, roughly 85% of the brain is developed. However, traditional education takes place in grades K-12, which begins at age five.

Ferst Readers' solution:  Register children from birth to five years old to receive a FREE age-appropriate book each month.

LStat 2 

Why books in the home?

  1. The number of books in the home correlates significantly with higher reading scores for children.
  2. 61% of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children. Children from lower-income homes have limited access to books.  Because of this, there are fewer home and preschool language and literacy opportunities for preschoolers from low-income families than for children from economically advantaged backgrounds.
  3. Children in low-income families lack essential one-on-one reading time, whereas on average, children who grow up in middle-class families have been exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading. The average child growing up in a low-income family, in contrast, has only been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading.

Ferst Readers' solution: Mail a new book at NO COST to the participants' homes or childcare centers monthly.

LStat 3 

Why is language the key to early literacy? 

  1. Children’s academic successes at ages 9 and 10 can be attributed to the amount of talk they hear from birth through age 3. Young children who are exposed to certain early language and literacy experiences also prove to be good readers later on in life.
  2. Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Books for kids actually contain 50% more words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently than regular conversation, TV, or radio.

Ferst Readers' solution: Along with each book, our Leap Into Books parent engagement newsletter is included. This book-specific resource provides critical questions, relevant vocabulary, and fun, family-friendly activities directly related to the story to help extend the child's experience beyond the pages of the book.


Why does access to print make a huge impact?

  1. In a study of nearly 100,000 U.S. school children, access to printed materials was the key variable affecting reading acquisition.
  2. Children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than 3 times a week.
  3. In middle-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1;  in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children. 
  4. 80% of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children.

Ferst Readers' solution:  When parents are struggling to keep their jobs, pay rent or bills, and struggling to stay afloat, buying books is not at the top of their priority list. Ferst Readers takes the guesswork out of what kinds of books are best for children to read. Our Leap Into Books newsletter provides school-readiness activities to help children enter school ready to learn and parents ready to engage with their child's education.

LStat 5 

Literacy Statistics to consider:

  1. Nationally, only 35% of public school students were at or above Proficient in grade 4 reading.
  2. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that children who were read to frequently are also more likely to: count to 20 or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%), write their own names (54% vs. 40%), read or pretend to read (77% vs. 57%)
  3. 37% of children arrive at kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning.
  4. 50% of children from low-income communities start first grade up to two years behind their peers.
  5. One in six children who are not reading proficiently in the third grade does not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. (rate is higher in children from low-income families and rural areas)
  6. According to the Department of Education, the more students read or are read to for fun on their own time and at home, the higher their reading scores, generally.

 *Works Cited: Literacy Project. Admin Travis. Feb 14, 2019. 30 Key Child Literacy Stats Parents Need To Be Aware Of – Literacy Project Foundation.

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Thank you for visiting Ferst Readers!

Ensuring that children develop early literacy skills is one of the most important things we can do - as parents, as teachers - and as a society.

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