Community Partnership for Youth on Helping Children Learn to Read

While many know CPY for their prevention programs against gangs, drugs and violence, it is also just as dedicated to improving the reading skills of its students. Reading every day is a key component of the mentor-tutor program.  In California alone, over 33 percent of children will not finish high school due to illiteracy.  Studies show that children who have not developed some basic literacy skills are 3-4 times more likely to drop out in later years.

For the majority of students at CPY, literacy is a major obstacle to thrive academically. Some students are speaking English as a second language; even more do not have reading assistance at home. 

Then there’s this sobering fact:Federal prison system factors in the it will need in the number of kids who read poorly in fourth grade to help estimate how many beds it will need in the future.   Children who are unable to read at grade level by the third grade often can’t catch up. They begin falling farther and farther behind their classmates.   All too often, students simply give up and tune out, long before they actually drop out of school. This situation results in a host of undesirable social consequences including inappropriate behavior, poor employment prospects, higher than average likelihood of drug use and criminal behavior, teen pregnancy, and even premature death.  

CPY’s programs take every opportunity to make reading exciting, easy and accessible to students. After homework time, all students choose a book to read. With help from their peers in small reading groups, as well as staff and volunteers, students are increasingly eager to practice their skills. During the summer small groups can be seen sitting together all over campus listening and readingtogether.  

“All the leaders have helped me to read,” says Kyana, a second grader. “They teach me word by word and help me  remember words. I break up words and sound them out while I’m reading.” Incentive programs further encourage reading. Students earn points for chapters they read and comprehend, with bonus points for book reports, that can be redeemed for a chance to join field trips to Great America. Another reason students look forward to the upcoming holiday season is the fact that they each receive a book of their choice. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving. 

PDF icon CPY Storyteller.pdf