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Commentary: Sharing a love of reading is a task for all Philadelphians

Monday, February 27, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Amy Seasholtz
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By Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and
Wells Fargo Philadelphia R
egion President Greg Redden

Whose job is it to teach our children to read?

Parents and teachers certainly have a big role to play, but they're not alone. Our neighbors, community groups, local businesses, and city government are all part of that village it takes to raise a child and instill the reading skills needed for a happy, fulfilled life. And thanks to Read by 4th, a citywide coalition of community members and groups tackling early childhood literacy, with the Free Library as the backbone organization, we have a clear path forward to making childhood literacy a reality for all of our city's children.

But there is still a lot of work to be done. Two out of three Philadelphia schoolchildren cannot read at grade level by the time they enter fourth grade. This is a critical juncture in children's lives. Students who are behind in reading entering fourth grade are more likely to drop out of school and face a range of hardships, including incarceration.

Across Philadelphia, we're already mobilizing and demanding a different destiny for our children. At City Hall, we're hard at work making sure more pre-K programs set our city's kids on a course to a lifelong love of reading and learning. We're creating community schools that remove the barriers that keep our children from succeeding academically. We're expanding educational opportunities beyond the classroom for more than 18,000 Philadelphia students who take part in our Out-of-School-Time Programs. Wells Fargo is actively encouraging employees to become reading champions and tutors and cheering on other local businesses to follow suit.

Last week, parents, partners, educational leaders, and funders came together for the first-ever Reading Is Everywhere Mayoral Roundtable to review Read by 4th's efforts to double the number of fourth graders reading at grade level by 2020 and identify key strategies that can accelerate the pace of change. Over the last year, Read by 4th and the coalition of 91 partners have accomplished much. We were inspired by the stories from parents and community leaders we heard during the roundtable. Our partnerships are strong and our progress significant. We left Thursday's session with a profound understanding of how far we have to go, coupled with a productive impatience to keep moving forward.

And we cannot do it without you.

To accomplish our goal, Read by 4th has established six bold ideas to maintain our momentum:

  • Every Philadelphian embraces life's teachable moments with the children in their lives in a city full of learning landscapes.
  • Every new teacher enters the classroom ready to teach reading.
  • Every family makes perfect school attendance a weekly goal.
  • Every child has a personal home library with the right books.
  • Every child has access to free reading tutoring in his or her neighborhood.
  • Every block has a Reading Hero - someone who champions reading for the neighborhood.

While Read by 4th tackles big-picture challenges, we're calling on the citizens of Philadelphia to start implementing these bold ideas in their communities and making a difference in the lives of individual children.

Start a book club for children on your block. Ensure the children in your neighborhood get to school every day, on time. Look for ways to turn everyday moments into teachable ones. Our children's love of reading begins now, with us.

For details on how you can help, visit

@PhillyMayo r @wellsfargo