Help raise a reader | AspenTimes.com

Help raise a reader

Dear Editor:Raising A Reader Aspen to Parachute has received support through Pitkin County’s Healthy Community Fund for six years. Our program provides 1,600 children in the Roaring Fork Valley, from newborn to age five, with four books per child per week to take home for read-aloud time with parents and family. When books are returned weekly, four more are sent home in a bright red book bag. More than 7,000 children’s books chosen by specialists are maintained in this weekly rotation. In addition, Raising A Reader provides parent education programs and teacher support to ensure literacy-rich homes and preschools. This work is critical. Eighty percent of the neurological pathways necessary for long-term learning are developed in the first five years of life. This establishes the foundation for all future learning. If children are not reading at grade level by third grade, the statistics tell us that a majority will not catch up and 20 percent will fail to graduate from high school. The evidence shows clearly that an environment rich in read-aloud time, stories and other language development activities by engaged parents and preschool teachers will substantially improve a child’s readiness for reading success. Nobel laureate James Heckman found that investments in the preschool years pay a higher rate of economic return than any other educational intervention. That’s because numerous long-term studies show that children who enter kindergarten fully prepared for academic success attain higher levels of education, require less special education, earn higher wages, are more likely to own a home and are less likely to be incarcerated. Heckman’s economic models show that $1 spent today on our youngest residents will save society $7 down the road. The Roaring Fork Valley is a place rich in cultural, recreational, scenic and intellectual treasures. It is a place that invests in these treasures and in the well-being of each resident, especially its children. I am very appreciative of the generous support received through the Pitkin County Healthy Community Fund. In addition to the direct impact already mentioned, Raising A Reader effectively leverages support from Pitkin County as an endorsement to secure additional funding from other public, business, foundation and individual donors. Thank you to all who have and will continue to make the Pitkin County Healthy Community Fund a reality. Rick Blauveltexecutive director, Raising A Reader Aspen to Parachute