The Solution
The Community Immersion Approach. Literacy starts at birth.  City’s First Readers is guided by the best practices which demonstrate that fostering early literacy development is vital to the long-term wellbeing of children.

Decades of neuroscience research demonstrates the need to focus on children’s early years to boost lifelong educational achievement. Adolescent and adult brain architecture is heavily influenced by experiences during the period from birth to five years. In low-income communities, by the time children enter kindergarten, they are on average 12-24 months below national norms in language and pre-reading skills.  Vocabulary use at 3 years is predictive of language skills at age 9 and 10 and is associated with reading. Investing in high quality early childhood education is an investment in our future.

In New York City, we face a literacy crisis with negative fiscal, social and health implications.  According to 2017 English Language Arts standardized test scores, 65.3% of New York City’s third grade students living in poverty read below grade level.  Once these students fall behind, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to catch up. According to the National Research Council, third grade reading proficiency is a leading indicator for high school graduation.

One in six children who don’t read proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time.  These children will have far fewer opportunities to experience economic sufficiency, and will have greater health and social needs.  Public investment in early literacy development does not merely increase educational achievement, it also strengthens economic growth rates and standard of living, thus ensuring the future vitality of our city.

Parent Engagement Workshops
Early literacy support workshops sponsored by the initiative help families establish a daily reading routine, and provide parents with fun and easy pre-reading literacy-building activities that can be done at home.

Early Childhood Literacy Programs
Organizations provide a wide range of programming and events for children from birth through age 5.  Reading and play spaces, reading circles and supplemental reading activities allow families to experience literacy collectively, and model positive reading behaviors.

Reading Opportunities
When young children are read to regularly, they are more likely to begin school with solid literacy skills. The initiative provides reading opportunities in the home, libraries, doctor offices, parks, and local businesses.

Book Distribution
All partner organizations distribute early literacy resources and materials to create literacy rich environments, such as: age-appropriate books, educational toys and literacy kits, newsletters. When families have the materials to create a home library, they can make reading part of their everyday lives.

Pediatric Visits and Interventions
One-on-one sessions with an interventionist during pediatric visits to promote shared reading and play through modeling positive reading and play behaviors. This approach reinforces strengths in parent-child interactions through the use of video-recording and self-reflection.  In addition, books and other literacy experiences are provided in doctor’s waiting rooms.

Home Visits
One-on-one, regular home visits for parents and families provide parents with knowledge, skills, and materials to build early literacy skills and prepare children for school success.

Professional Development
Capacity building opportunities for educators, librarians, medical staff, literacy support staff or volunteers, and other adults.

Network Building
Having a network of support is crucial to long-term success. The City’s First Readers initiative helps families, caregivers, and teachers form connections to each other and to the resources needed to help young children develop the literacy skills for lifelong success.