Child Literacy in the US

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Improving Literacy in the US — Creating Lifelong Learners

Did you know that only about one third of American fourth-graders are proficient in reading? By fourth grade, if children can't read at grade level, they're unlikely to ever catch up.

The outcome is even more alarming if the struggling readers happen to be among the 16 million children living in poverty across America, whose only hope at a brighter future is through education. Half of all low-income fourth-graders score below basic levels on U.S. literacy assessments. And yet, more than 60% of low-income families can't afford to have books in their homes.

Rethinking Child Literacy in the US

We know that fostering a love of learning early on is key to ensuring our children's success in school and life. That's why we offer effective school-based programs to disadvantaged students right here in the United States. Our American literacy program and expanded curriculum in science and math help children from kindergarten through sixth grade stay on track developmentally and grow as readers and learners.

Summer Reading List

Our Results for Children

Children gain the equivalent of 4.2 additional months of school from our literacy programs and read an average of 62 books. What's more, twice the number of children participating in our literacy program read at grade level by the end of the year.

Kids' Corner

Kids really do say the darnedest things, about reading. We asked children in our U.S. literacy programs why they love a good book:

child literacy in the US

"I want to be a veterinarian and reading is helping make my dreams come true! I already work at the zoo and reading has helped give me the knowledge I need to do my job well."

– Dedra, 16, Tennessee (former student in Save the Children's U.S. school-based program)

literacy in the US

"I like to read because there are new adventures all the time. Fiction is my favorite, because you can get inside the adventure."

–Brandon, 11, Tennessee

fighting for literacy in the US

"I love reading because you can learn many things in a book. You can even learn how to build a hamster home!"

–Kori, 7, West Virginia

Help fight for literacy in the US

"I love to read because the pictures and stories help me to imagine that I am somewhere else!"

–Nevaeh, 7, California

child literacy in the US

"Reading lets me travel to awesome places in my imagination. That’s why I like to read."

—Nyla, 9, Mississippi

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