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Why is strong foundation in reading crucial by third grade?

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Child wearing golden crown while reading a book

Reading well by third grade is one of the most important predictors of high school graduation and career success, according to the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Yet in Palm Beach County, nearly half of third-graders are not reading on grade level.
So why does third-grade reading matter?

During early school years, children focus on learning to read. But once children hit third grade, they begin reading to learn. That means if children can’t read well, they will fall behind in other subjects — science, social studies and even math — that increasingly depend on word problems as well as math facts.

Without strong reading skills, children fall further and further behind, making catch-up that much harder as the years pass by.


Your first step in raising a reader is to develop a love for reading. Here is advice from the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County to get you started:

  • GET CAUGHT READING: By reading in front of your children, you set a good example and let them know you value reading.
  • TALK, TALK, TALK: Talk to your infant, baby and child. Talk to them about books and stories, as well as everything else you encounter in daily life. Talk to them when grocery shopping, cooking, folding laundry, taking a walk. Point out colors, animals, vehicles. Discuss the weather, count out silverware. Tell stories and rhymes. The more words your children hear, the bigger their vocabulary and the better they’ll perform in school.
  • READ, READ, READ: Point out print everywhere — on street signs and cereal boxes, as well as in books. Make time to read with your children every day. It shows you enjoy spending time with them and that you value reading.
  • TAKE BOOKS ALONG: Keep books, magazines and other reading materials in your bag, in the car and anywhere else you go. The more you expose your children to reading, the better reader they’ll become. Besides, books are a great way to keep children busy at a doctor’s office, a bus stop or in the car!
  • VISIT THE LIBRARY: When children choose their own books, they’re more likely to read them. So help your child get a library card. Show them how to choose books – and then share those books with them.

If you or your child need help with reading, call the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County at 561-279-9103.

If you have questions about your child’s growth and development, call 2-1-1 and ask for Help Me Grow.


The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County
Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County

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