LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Strong literacy skills help ensure every child can steer himself toward success, but more than half of Arkansas children do not enter kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed.
Thankfully, Reach Out and Read makes a difference by putting books in the hands of more than 60,000 Arkansas youngsters each year, helping them develop strong early literacy skills.
The third annual "Once Upon A Time" fundraiser to support Reach Out and Read will be themed around Oh, the Places You'll Go! to remind us that, with a little help, every child CAN succeed.
In Arkansas there are 27 Reach Out and Read Programs serving 40,372 children and distributing 61,320 books annually.
In order to reach even more children and their parents, the "Once Upon a Time" fundraiser will be held Thursday, Oct. 17, from 6-9 p.m. at Pleasant Valley Country Club. The event features the music of Rodney Block. Tickets are $50, and each ticket purchased sponsors a child for the five-year duration of the program.
The Arkansas chapter of Reach Out and Read is part of a national program, which has emerged as a model for early literacy in its approach, scope and proven effectiveness.
The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that early literacy intervention be a standard part of pediatric care for children ages 6 months to 5 years.
Reach Out and Read Arkansas partners with pediatricians across the state to provide books to low-income children ages 0-5 who may not have books in their homes.
The pediatricians work with the parents to help them learn best practices for reading aloud daily with their children.
Pediatricians work with families on "prescriptions" for reading, helping ensure that every Arkansas child enters kindergarten prepared with the skills needed to succeed.
Nationally, fewer than half of young children are read to daily. That percentage drops even lower (to 36 percent) among low-income families, whose children face the highest risk of literacy problems.
Families living in poverty often lack the money to buy new books, as well as access to libraries. In fact, 61 percent of low-income families have no children's books in their homes. At 44 percent, Arkansas ranks 43 in daily parental reading for children ages 0 to 5.
Reach Out and Read Arkansas aims to improve these statistics.
Tickets to the "Once Upon a Time" benefit are still available. Purchase at http://reachoutandreadarkansas.org/tickets/.
For more information on Reach Out and Read, visit http://reachoutandreadarkansas.org/index.htm.