Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California is the country’s largest RIF program. Our work to close the opportunity gap one book at a time empowers young minds to embrace the world of reading and develop a love of learning.
As of our 45th anniversary in 2017, we will have served 1.5 million children, and provided them with more than 4.7 million books.
Based on the large body of research that shows the importance of early reading experiences, the program targets children in Prek – 8th grade at schools with a high proportion of students from low-income families. We also place an emphasis on reaching children with special needs, and through non-school settings such as medical clinics, family courts, Cedars-Sinai COACH for Kids, and USC’s Violence Intervention Program. Of the 71,500 children we will serve in 2017-2918, 91% are eligible for the National School Lunch Program, 92% are in grades PreK – 3, 8% are in grades 4-8, and 9% have special needs. In the 2016-17 fiscal year, 6,632 RIFSoCal volunteers conducted 645 motivational reading events, distributing 206,003 new books to 66,416 unduplicated children at 227 sites.
RIFSoCal’s strategic plan is focused on continuous expansion. Between 2013 and 2018 we will have grown by an astonishing 39%! Based on current research highlighting reading and older children, including Scholastic's recently released 5th edition reading report, we know this is a critical area of need.
- The percentage of children who read for fun drops with age.
- Reading enjoyment, and the percentage of children who say reading books for fun is extremely or very important, drops sharply after age 8.
The results of a May 2017 survey of school principals and site coordinators clearly demonstrate the impact of the program:
96% believe the program has directly increased students' love of reading;
95% believe the program is an important literacy tool for the school;
94% believe the program has led to an increase in students' independent reading;
89% believe the program has increased parent involvement in their child's literacy development; and
88% believe the program has increased parent and community involvement in the school.
Sample comments include:
- Students take great joy in building their personal library. They love having their own books.
- The enjoyment of reading books has increased tremendously.
- We serve low-income families, so children receiving books to start their own home library is huge. Parents and children reading together at events is the beginning of bringing literacy into their everyday lives.
- The children I work with are reluctant readers; the program has changed this so many times.
- The best thing about the RIF program is the building of community through literacy. It promotes a more committed collaborative relationship between the home and school.
We are humbled to share an excerpt of a beautifully written letter by a RIF alumna:
Reading is synonymous with my personality. Books are my passion, my profession, my identity. I firmly believe that without individuals and programs like RIF, my passion for books, and as a result my life path, could have taken a different turn.
That day where I chose my book and wrote my name inside was one step in many that have led me to be the reader, free thinker, and librarian I am today. I am so happy to be a “RIF Kid” and grateful that the program is still making a difference in children’s lives today. I’ll end with a quote from Children’s Author and literacy advocate Frank Serafini, “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.”
Thank you RIF for finding me and other children the right books, it changed my life.
-- Carly Lamphere, Librarian, Instruction and Reference, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising