A girl named Riley sits on the floor of her school’s library and smiles and she holds a thick hardcover book open. The casual reading spot contains dozens of other colorful books, encouraging 3rd grade readers like Riley to read to learn. Photo credit: Michael Nylif/ Save the Children, May 2019.

Millions of American kids don’t have a single book at home. You can give the gift of reading to a child like Riley (pictured above). Thanks to Riley’s participation in a Save the Children afterschool program, the Texas third-grader read more than a million words in a single school year, making her an elite member of her middle school’s millionaire club. Photo credit: Michael Nylif/ Save the Children, May 2019.

America’s Future Belongs to an Educated Child

In the last decade, Save the Children’s innovative literacy program, proven to significantly boost children’s reading skills, has helped tens of millions of the world’s most vulnerable children. Children like Riley. Despite growing up in a community in southeast Texas, which struggles with poverty and unemployment, the third-grader is acquiring a wealth of knowledge.

Nine-year-old Riley became a millionaire nearly overnight this school year.
 
The wealth the third grader has quickly accumulated is not piling up in any bank, however – not yet anyway. Instead, it’s brain power she’s been gaining, as she is among the very select few students at her school to read more than a million words this school year – the equivalent of reading the entire “Harry Potter” book series.
 
Riley became a member of the school’s elite millionaire club nearly three months before the summer break, and has been continuing to add to her wealth of knowledge ever since.
 
“Reading makes me feel happy,” the southeast Texas third grader said. “I get to imagine – have my own little fun.”
 
Riley always liked reading, but she hasn’t always been reading at such a fervent, breakneck pace. She was reading at grade level at the start of this school year, but is now reading a grade level above her classmates with the help of Save the Children’s afterschool program – which boosts literacy growth through guided independent reading practice, comprehension-building book talks and reading quizzes. And with third grade being the critical year that children transition from learning to read to reading to learn, Riley is primed for long-term success in school and life.
 
The program also uses proven numeracy activities to help accelerate children’s math development, and provides homework help and physical activities afterschool. It’s a rare family resource in Riley’s community, which struggles with poverty and unemployment.

A girl named Riley sits on the floor of her school’s library and smiles and she holds a thick hardcover book open. The casual reading spot contains dozens of other colorful books, encouraging 3rd grade readers like Riley to read to learn. Photo credit: Michael Nylif/ Save the Children, May 2019.

Riley loves the opportunity to select from the many books offered at the afterschool program. She said she leans toward adventure books, but it’s hard to pick a favorite – typically it’s the next book she sticks her nose in. And it doesn’t matter where she is, there’s always time to open a book – could be right after her afterschool snack, or when there’s a free minute during her latest school field trip.
 
“Her interest in reading has skyrocketed this year – she’s always engaged in a book,” said Annette, who helps oversee the afterschool program.
 
With a million words and lots of stories behind her this school year, Riley has a lot more to say in the classroom, too, Annette said. She has seen Riley come out of her shell, she said, learning to express her ideas and opinions with confidence during the program’s book discussions.
 
Being a millionaire has its perks too, as Riley and the select few members of the school’s millionaire club got to ride in a limo recently to meet the mayor of her community.  
 
No, she didn’t pull out a book and steal away some time to read during her visit with the mayor, but it’s a safe bet she thought about it.

Because of you, America’s most vulnerable children are reading – and succeeding. Learn more about Save the Children’s education programs in the U.S.

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