HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A day dedicated to literacy and reading to children in pre-kindergarten through third grade is coming, and hundreds of book lovers are needed to help make it happen.
On March 2, nonprofit Literacy Now will host its second annual Houston Reads Day, bringing awareness to a growing crisis in our city's schools.
"(The event exists) to raise awareness out in the public of all the struggles that many, many of our kiddos in the Houston area are facing with reading challenges," said Literacy Now executive director Jacque Daughtry.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Daughtry said 63% of children in the third grade were not reading at grade level. Data shows that number has increased to roughly 72% since March 2020.
To help turn the page on illiteracy, Houston Reads Day will bring together hundreds of volunteers ages 13 and up to show students "school can be a happy place for them," Daughtry said.
The event also coincides with what would have been Dr. Seuss' 118th birthday.
Nearly 50 schools in Houston and Aldine ISDs will participate, impacting 18,000 pre-K through third grade students in all, but Daughtry said the organization needs more volunteer readers to make it happen.
"We are expecting 600 volunteers and we are hoping this to be a great experience for the adults and the children," Daughtry said.
To sign up as a volunteer, visit LiteracyNowHouston.org. Volunteers can choose a school closest to their home or workplace. A background check is required to participate.
ABC13 Houston is proud to be Houston Reads Day's official television partner.
Literacy Now's goal is to provide Houston children and their caregivers with access to the tools they need to learn how to read in early childhood.
They also pair children with volunteer mentors, organize reading interventions and teach families how to include reading in their everyday lives.