October 10, 2017 – Raising A Reader MA, the premiere and proven solution in parent engagement and early literacy, today announced that Christine Ward, an early literacy advocate, has been appointed as its new Executive Director. Ms. Ward will lead the organization’s charge to improve the reading readiness of children from birth to age six.
In Massachusetts, 43% of students are not reading on grade level by the end of third grade, and that number increases to 60% for low-income students. A primary reason for these low scores is that children arrive at school without the vocabulary and key reading readiness skills they need for kindergarten, and then they struggle to catch up. Raising A Reader’s signature Red Book Bag program provides families with a weekly rotation of high-quality, culturally appropriate books that is supplemented by parent training in interactive read-aloud strategies. This approach boosts brain development, vocabulary, and kindergarten literacy readiness that can change a child’s lifetime educational trajectory.
Christine Ward was previously the Interim Executive Director and Vice President of Operations and Finance at Raising A Reader MA. A resident of Newton, she holds an MBA from Babson College and a BA in English from UMass Amherst. As part of her leadership role, Ms. Ward will oversee the development of new partnership models to reach families where they are – at work, at a community center, or in their neighborhood.
“When my children were young, I took family reading time for granted. We had a bedtime routine and a whole library of books in our home. Knowing that those routines are not available to all families – whether due to lack of awareness or lack of resources – drives my passion for what we do,” said Ms. Ward. “I am determined to make sure that every family can enjoy the proven educational benefits and shared joy of interactive book time together.”
Raising A Reader MA teaches evidence-based, interactive reading strategies that engage children in dialogue about the characters, the stories, and predictions about what is going to happen next. Culturally relevant books in multiple languages, paired with fun literacy activities, make it possible for families to participate at their comfort level.
Since 2006, Raising A Reader MA has circulated over 71,000 books to more than 45,000 children and families in Massachusetts. In the 2016-17 program year alone, Raising A Reader MA served a total of 13,813 children with 114 program partners across the state, teaching interactive reading strategies to thousands of parents, many of whom never before made a practice of reading in their homes.
About Raising A Reader MA
Founded in 2006 and brought to Massachusetts from California through GreenLight Fund support, Raising A Reader MA is an evidence-based early literacy program that helps families of young children (birth through age six) develop, practice, and maintain habits of reading together at home. Raising A
Reader MA’s core program increases access to books and offers support for strengthening the culture of reading at home. The model is driven by more than 25 years of research that shows the most significant factor impacting a child’s academic success is being regularly read to by a parent or other primary adult caregiver before starting kindergarten.
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