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The Shocking Truth About Children's Literacy (And What You Can Do to Help)

By now, you may have seen the viral story on Facebook about a boy named Matthew Flores. Matthew loves reading so much that he’d hang out by the neighborhood mailboxes to collect advertisements to read. He asked his mailman for extra junk mail, explaining that he didn’t have any books at home and had no way to get to the local library. Being an avid reader himself, the mailman took action and asked his Facebook friends to donate a used book or two to Matthew. What happened next was nothing short of inspiring. (Watch the video below, or read the full story here)

The truth is, while we may take books for granted, there are thousands of children like Matthew all across the country. Did you know middle-income neighborhoods have access to 13 books for every 1 child, while low-income neighborhoods have just 1 book for every 300 children? It’s a startling stat, but not nearly as alarming as the effects of this discrepancy. Consider these stats….

  • Students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of school.
  • 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. (Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.)
  • 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
  • As of 2011, America was the only free-market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less educated than the previous one.

By now you’re probably asking “What can I do?”

Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) is working to bridge this gap and ICMI is teaming up with HFUW to support the cause! This year at Contact Center Expo & Conference we’re collecting new & gently-used children's books (K-12) to support HFUW’s Day of Action. HFUW will distribute the books to kids in need on June 21. In addition, we want to share words of inspiration and encouragement to motivate and inspire each of the children who receive these books!

Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Stop by ICMI’s Inspiration Central Booth (#327) to drop off your new or gently used books.
  2. Stop by ICMI’s Inspiration Central Booth to make a card. Here’s your chance to be creative and help inspire a young mind!

No room in your suitcase for books? We’ve got you covered! We’ll have a few children’s titles available for sale at our event bookstore. (And if you purchase a book to donate through our bookstore, UBM will match the funds spent.)

Can’t join us at the event this year, but still want to support the cause? You can purchase a book through our Amazon wishlist. Just choose “Patty Lucey’s Gift Registry Address” at shipping and be sure to send your orders before May 15th!

Right now, there are thousands of children in the Orlando community who don’t have a single book in their home. Only 1 out of 300 low-income children have a bedtime story to read with their parents. Only 1 out of 300 low-income children have a way to escape into a world of adventure. Only 1 out of 300 low-income children will have a book to read over the summer to keep working on their reading skills. Together we can make a difference! Are you in?

Have questions? Want to help us spread the word? Please feel to reach me via email or Twitter.

Thank you in advance for supporting this worthy cause! I look forward to seeing you soon in Orlando!