Press Release: MSDE Launches Family Engagement Program To Spur Early Literacy

Nationally Acclaimed 'Raising A Reader' Program Set For Seven School Systems

For Immediate Release                                            Contact: Bill Reinhard, 410-767-0486

Baltimore, MD (March 11, 2014)

The Maryland State Department of Education today  announced the launch of the “Raising A Reader” program, a family engagement and early literacy initiative with a track record of improving the reading readiness skills of children. Raising A Reader helps families develop, practice and sustain the habit of reading to their children. The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant will allow Maryland to fund this program for three years. 

Raising A Reader is a nonprofit organization that has served more than 100,000 children in 30 states across the country. More than a dozen independent research evaluations have shown the program to significantly increase parent involvement and improve early reading skills of children.

Seven Maryland school districts will kick-off their participation in Raising A Reader during March: Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Prince George’s, Somerset, Talbot and Washington counties. Nearly 1,500 prekindergarten students in Title I schools will benefit from this initiative.

“Investing in early childhood development programs pays off for Maryland, and Raising A Reader provides families with the foundation for academic success,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery.  “This program will set our youngest learners on a very bright path.”  

The components of the Raising A Reader program include parent workshops, a connection with public libraries, and a weekly book rotation. Parent workshops held throughout the year provide parents and other primary caregivers with opportunities to share and demonstrate practices leading to increased family bonding and language acquisition. The connection with public libraries is promoted during special “Blue Bag” events with parents. Each family receives a blue bag to use when carrying books to and from the local public library. The final component of the program is the rotation of books in bright red bags that children take home on a weekly basis, exposing each child to many award-winning books throughout the year.

For more information about the Raising A Reader program, or any of the upcoming kick-off events, please contact Robert Wagner at 410.767.7811.

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