Free Library of Philadelphia hosts children's reading program to help close literacy gap

Justin Udo
January 19, 2020 - 4:41 pm
Megan Larson of the Free Library's Literacy Lab works with two young children to help them with their reading.

Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Free Library of Philadelphia is working to close the literacy gap with kids in the city, through a special program aimed at getting early elementary kids ahead of the curve.

First through third-grade is the most formative stage in learning to read, one that if not done right can put kids years behind their peers.

There are currently more than six million children across the country under the age of eight who are on track for reading failure according to the Free Library's Literacy Lab. For kids in Philadelphia, first through third-graders who struggle to read can now go to the lab to get help.

"If you don't get them while they're young they get left behind," said the program's Megan Larson, "so the goal is to keep them on the target points so they can succeed in life."

Larson said they now have sessions every weekend at various Free Library branches throughout the city, including literacy-oriented games. "The goal of the program is really to make learning fun and reading exciting so that kids want to do it," she said, "because it's not supposed to be torture, but sometimes it can be if you don't do it the right way."

Through the program, Laya has discovered her love of reading. "I learned to read perfect, and that's pretty much how I read," she shared.

The third-grader said since starting the program, she's discovered a new kind of book she enjoys, graphic novels.

Kelachi goes to one of the weekend programs, and is already starting to see a big improvement in her reading. "You can learn a lot, how to read better and write," she said.

The program has also helped her discover her favorite book, one many adults might be able to relate to. "There's a book called Monday," Kelachi described, "and they had their worse Monday in the world."