Congress and President Obama Cut Reading Is Fundamental - America’s Largest Children’s Literacy Program serving over 4 Million children
March 3, 2011—Statement by Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental
On March 2, President Obama signed a bill that eliminated funding for Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) the nation's largest organization providing free books and literacy resources to prepare and motivate children to read. RIF’s ability to provide 4.4 million children with free books and reading encouragement from RIF programs at nearly 17,000 locations throughout the United States is in jeopardy.
RIF programs are in schools, community centers, hospitals, military bases, and other locations that serve children from low-income families, children with disabilities, homeless children, and children without adequate access to libraries. For 44 years, RIF has provided millions of children the opportunity to choose free and high-quality books to read and keep for themselves. The seeds of inspiration in these books have motivated children to follow their dreams and achieve their full potential.
The facts are simple. Millions of children are living in the United States without access to books. Book distribution programs are a key factor in developing children to be readers at an early age and a gateway to greater student achievement. In 2010, RIF commissioned a comprehensive meta-analytic research synthesis by Learning Point Associates, an affiliate of the American Institutes for Research. The study found that providing children access to print through book lending and book distribution programs:
- improves their reading performance,
- is instrumental in helping them learn the basics of reading,
- causes them to read more and for longer lengths of time,
- and improves their attitude toward reading and learning.
RIF has been an authorized, national program by the Department of Education through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for over thirty years. RIF has received bi-partisan support and has been funded by six administrations without interruption until now.
Our educational programs are under attack and it’s time to fight back. Investments in education are investments in our country’s future—our children. When I visit RIF programs across this country, I see firsthand the joy children feel when empowered to choose their very own book to own. All children deserve the American Dream, and we owe it to our nation’s children to provide the resources they need to turn the dream into reality. Even such small opportunities and encouragements to choose can inspire children to make greater choices: to choose learning, to choose success in school and life, to choose a brighter future.
RIF is committed to ensuring that despite the odds, all children have the chance to experience the joy of reading and have books to call their own. By providing children this opportunity, we are preparing them for a better life. Reading is indeed fundamental.