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Grants Help Parents Get Kids ‘Ready to Read’ and ‘Thrive By Five’

October 29, 2007

Olympia, WA – Teaching a child to read can be tough when parents don't have the language skills or are busy working just to make ends meet. That's why 14 Washington educational programs are splitting $1.5 million in new "Reading Readiness" grants, to teach low-income and non-English-speaking parents how to build a foundation of reading skills for their young children.

Brenda Blasingame, program development associate for Thrive by Five Washington, says it involves much more than picking up a book. It's also talking, singing, and describing things to kids.

"Based on different socioeconomic levels, children hear different amounts of words in their lives. And we know that the more frequently a child has heard a word, the better that she or he can decode and understand it."

Blasingame says kids don't have to learn to read before kindergarten but, if parents take a few simple steps, they'll be eager to try.

"A lot of parents think that, if children start behind when they enter kindergarten, they will be able to catch up. And one of the things that we know is, children that start behind tend to stay behind."

Blasingame says research shows early reading skills are so important, they are prime predictors of a child's chances of graduating from high school. The state-funded "Reading Readiness" grants are being awarded by the Washington Department of Early Learning and Thrive by Five Washington. Find a list of grant recipients online, at
www.thrivebyfivewa.org.


Chris Thomas/John Robinson, Public News Service - WA