Reading is a skill most of us take for granted, yet 55% of 4th graders today can’t
do so proficiently and a third are unable to read at even a basic level. Unfortunately,
studies show that children who don’t succeed in reading at grade level by this critical
juncture in their education are unlikely to catch up, and the lifelong effects of
falling behind and feeling like a failure can be devastating.
Philadelphia Reads was created by the Office of Philadelphia Mayor Edward G. Rendell
in 1997 to build a “City of Readers.” Through a series of in- and out-of-school
programs, such as Power Partners, Philadelphia Reads collaborates with more than
3,200 private sector volunteers. Of these, 1,500 work one-on-one with the city’s
youngest and neediest school children to strengthen their literacy skills and help
them foster a lifelong love of reading.
That learning continues with Summer Reads, a nationally recognized program that
keeps more than 500 children actively engaged in learning during their time off
from school, and Reading Olympics, a citywide reading contest that challenges teams
of 4th through 8th graders to read and answer questions about 20 books and then
participate in annual competition.
In addition to these mentoring programs, Philadelphia Reads has created the Children’s
Book Bank. This free bookstore, which is housed in a Philadelphia high school, provides
new and gently used books and various school supplies to help teachers and other
partners in underresourced public, charter and religious schools and other educational
facilities boost the size and quality of their classroom libraries. More than 100,000
books are given to teachers and students yearly.
“In today’s knowledge-based world, reading is essential for a child’s success in
school, their ability to find meaningful employment and their lifelong earning potential,”
said Dr. Adrienne Jacoby, Executive Director of Philadelphia Reads. “Our mission,
and the purpose of our programs, is to close the gap between those who can and cannot
read proficiently and to raise the bar for what we expect all of our children to