On any given day, there are 1.6 million homeless children in the US. Many of these children end up in homeless shelters, sometimes with a parent, but often times on their own, scared, worried and sad. Many of these children have never had access to books to read for fun. In fact, studies show that in middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books to children is 13 to one, but in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 book for every 300 children. Studies show that 75% of homeless children drop out of school, 36% repeat a grade, and only 43% pass standardized tests for reading proficiency. Having a selection of books in the shelters will introduce these kids to the love of reading, help them develop the reading skills to feel confident in their school work, and help them feel the desire to stay in school. Hopefully this will help them to better qualify for scholarships to further their educations after high school.
According to esteemed researcher, Dr. Susan Neuman, “Access to books and educational material is the single biggest barrier to literacy development in the United States and beyond. If we can solve the problem of access, we will be well on the road to realizing educational parity – a goal which has eluded this country for generations.”
Improving their reading skills will help boost self esteem, and reading will introduce them to new places, ideas, and people. Many shelters are for women and children who often leave a dangerous, abusive home with just the clothes on their backs. The directors of the shelters have mentioned that the books provide an excellent opportunity for the mothers to comfort their children by reading to them. Often reading the children’s books also help the mothers develop their reading skills as well, as many of them have poor reading skills, and read on an elementary level. Improving their reading skills will increase their self esteem as well, and hopefully help them to get better jobs to support their family and get out of the homeless shelters.