ACHIEVE Fort Bend County has officially begun its 2021 summer reading fundraising campaign to help students in first grade who struggle with reading. The program goal this year is to serve a record 1,200 children with 10 books each to promote their growth in reading during the summer break from school.
Each year the ACHIEVE program works with Title I schools in Fort Bend County to begin reaching these students earlier in their education to prevent loss of reading ability that many children experience during the summer months and to keep them on their track with their peers as they advance to the next grade.
The program fulfills a critical gap, especially now with the pandemic, to keep students who need help with reading from falling further behind with in-home schooling and other challenges that impact children and families. These challenges have continued into the new school year and ACHIEVE needs the community’s support to purchase the 12,000 books needed to deliver the program and help keep these students from falling behind academically.
Since the program’s inception in 2016, more than 4,000, English- and Spanish-speaking first grade students in Title I schools have been served by the program. These students are usually from low-income households where reading resources are few. Numerous studies indicate that during the summer months, when schools are closed, reading achievement of students from economically disadvantaged households slides back a few months every summer.
Children struggling to read at an early age are unlikely to flourish in school and in life. The ACHIEVE program aims to stave off this decline by identifying students early and providing resources for them to catch up. The variety of books selected for the program is designed for struggling beginner readers.
“We want children to have alternatives in learning tools and the summer reading program is a way to get books in the hands of young children who need them now more than ever,” said James Patterson, ACHIEVE Fort Bend County Board President.
Each student identified for the program will receive 10 books packaged in gleeful book bags that are personalized with their name and delivered to them at home. Qualified educators select books that represent the reading level, language and interest of children qualified for the program so that they can be inspired to read the books over and over and share them with others in their household. Before the end of the school year thousands of books are sorted and assembled by volunteers. Last year just over 1000 children received 10,000 books made possible by community and foundation giving. ACHIEVE Fort Bend depends on community volunteers and funding support to serve more children who are at risk of reading decline so that they too can have access to books to read in their own home and boost their reading skills during the summer break.