The Reading Tree promotes early literacy in San Francisco by offering programs that educate families about the importance of sharing books with children, and by giving books to children and families in need. Our primary focus is children in the 0 to 3 age group, a demographic often overlooked by literacy programs. The Reading Tree distributes books through free clinics and runs parent-child play-based classes in community centers and at a high school for teenage mothers. Our classes emphasize the joy of sharing books, give parents the confidence to read with their children at home and provide each family with new books to begin their home library.
Research has shown that exposure to books and time spent reading with caregivers are vital for early childhood development, and important predictors of future literacy skills.
For many children, the books that they receive from The Reading Tree are the first they have ever owned. In many low-income communities, there is an average of just one book for every 300 children. Through our “Prescription for Reading” and “Growing with Books” programs, The Reading Tree gives away more than 5,000 books per year to the children in San Francisco who need them most. This is significant because the impact of childhood illiteracy is deeply troubling: two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. We therefore seek to strengthen our community by giving the most at-risk kids a chance for a brighter and more successful future.