About Us

Challenge

"If, at the current pace, America continues to lose the habit of regular reading, the nation will suffer substantial economic, social, and civic setbacks.”
- Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

Did you know that…

  • 60% of kindergarteners in low-income families do not have a single age-appropriate book in their home?
  • The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home? 
  • Reading for pleasure correlates strongly with academic achievement?
  • 90% of children living in poverty in Los Angeles have parents with “below or no” literacy skills?
  • When students read books of their own choosing, they are more likely to be motivated, independent readers.
  • More that 65% of all State and Federal correctional inmates can be classified as low literate.

Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California’s primary goal is to compel children to read by putting books of choice in the hands of those who otherwise would not have access to them - books they will be excited to read purely for pleasure.  We seek to create a culture of literacy and an environment that supports it by building the home libraries of children and fostering a community that rallies around literacy. 

Program

“Reading is more than a pastime.  In today’s world, it’s a survival skill.  A child who can read is a child who can learn, and a child who can learn is a child who can succeed.”
                                   ...former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings


For almost 45 years, Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California has taken special pride inspiring the most resource-deprived children in Los Angeles and Orange County to read.  We believe that developing a passion for reading, reading for fun, is the greatest gift we can give children on their road to literacy.  By bringing communities together in this mission, we have witnessed thousands of life-changing moments and received innumerable testimonials from grateful children, parents, and school teachers.

Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California works with more than 252 project sites, tirelessly motivating thousands of children (over 65,000 in program year 2015-2016) across Los Angeles and Orange Counties to discover the joy of reading.  With the help of over 8200 volunteers including almost 6000 parents, our programs celebrate books and give families the resources to make reading a part of their lives.  We are unique in providing children the opportunity to choose and take home free, new books to create their own home libraries - giving them a sense of ownership and pride.  It is well established among literacy researchers that when students read books of their own choosing they are likely to be more motivated, independent readers. 

Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California works with parents to foster literacy in the home.  We want families to know that sharing stories and reading aloud to children is the first and single most important thing they can do to help children learn to read.  And best of all, families grow closer by taking time to read to their children. 

Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California makes a difference in children’s lives every day through enriching activities that spark children’s interest in reading; putting books in the hands, homes, and hearts of the children who need them most; helping educate parents about the importance of literacy in their homes; motivating children and volunteers to make reading a central part of their lives, and helping whole communities celebrate the joy of reading. 

Based on the large body of research showing the importance of early reading experiences, Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California targets children in pre-K through 3rd grade at schools with a high proportion of students from low-income families (94% of the children we serve are eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch Program).  We also emphasize reaching children with special needs, and through non-traditional venues such as Ronald McDonald House, dental and medical clinics, and family courts. 

Program Impact

We are the country’s largest RIF program, currently partnering with 252 project sites – which include elementary schools, preschools, Head Start sites, and community based organizations – to bring much-needed literacy resources to disadvantaged children. Our overall organizational goals are to influence the reading behavior of children living in poverty and strengthen the literacy support of their schools and communities.

The Motivational Reading Program puts new, high-quality books of choice into the hands of children who would otherwise not have access to them – books that they will be excited to read for fun and pleasure and take home as their own. The core of the Motivational Reading Program is the “book event” – special celebratory activities that culminate in each child selecting a book to take home as his/her own.

RIFSoCal serves children in high poverty schools and those with special needs in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Of the 65,000+ children we will serve this year, 91% are in pre-K through 3rd grade; 94% are from low-income households as determined by their eligibility for the National School Lunch Program; and 9% have special needs.

Our strategic plan is focused on continued expansion. In 2014-2015 we expanded by 10%, which included moving into Orange County for the first time where we served 4,842 children as well as into new, high-need communities in Los Angeles County. In 2015-2016 we are on track to grow by an additional 18%.

The implementation of the Motivational Reading Program is a collaboration with our 250+ project sites in the community and corps of over 8,000 volunteers (including 5,000+ parent volunteers). Individual groups of volunteers at the project sites conduct the motivational reading events. We provide the raw materials and guidance, and they decide for themselves how they will utilize these resources drawing from the strengths in their local community. We support their efforts and learn effective strategies that we, in turn, disseminate as best practices to all sites.

The results of a May 2015 survey of school principals and site coordinators clearly demonstrate the impact of the program, including:

98% believe the program has directly increased students' love of reading;

98% believe the program has led to an increase in students' independent reading;

85% believe the program is a very important literacy tool for the school; 83% believe the program has increased parent involvement in their child's literacy development;

and 81% believe the program has increased parent and community involvement in the school.

Sample comments include:

o "The RIF program has awakened a love of reading for our students. They are so excited when they receive their RIF books."

o "The best thing to come out of the program is the increase in independent reading and comprehension scores in reading assessments school-wide."

o "We celebrate a love of reading as a whole school community. It is now a special and meaningful tradition for our school."

o “The best thing about the program is the children’s excitement and parents showing just a much excitement and willingness to work with the child on their literacy skills.”

o "Ask the teachers. Ask the children. I don't believe anyone could imagine not having RIF."