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Philadelphia Joins National Campaign Getting Kids To Read Before It’s Too Late

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Bill Hite talks to 3rd grader Lucas at kick off event. (credit: Pat Loeb)

Bill Hite talks to 3rd grader Lucas at kick off event. (credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Brain researchers have found that learning to read gets much harder after the age of nine. That’s sparked a national campaign to get kids reading on grade level by that age.

Last week, Philadelphia city and school officials, non-profits and private donors announced the city will join the effort with a campaign called “Read! by 4th.”

Schools superintendent Bill Hite said research has also shown the long-term consequences when students don’t acquire the ability to read by the time they enter fourth grade.

“There are higher drop out rates, there are lower graduation rates, there’s lower attendance, grades are not where they should be and children don’t get into college or into a career.”

Donna Cooper of Public Citizens for Children and Youth — a campaign co-sponsor– says it’s a job schools can’t do alone.

“Our goal is to reach out and build a reading culture with the children, with their parents and in their communities.”

Fifty groups have already signed up to participate. Wells Fargo is the founding corporate sponsor and regional president Greg Reddin invited others to join:

“Every company who does business here in the city knows the importance of having a well-educated workforce so this is really critical for all of our success.”

The campaign will focus on five areas including early learning, keeping kids engaged through the summer and helping parents encourage reading at home.

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