In learning to read, practicejust readingis a powerful contributor
to the development of accurate, fluent, high-comprehension reading (Allington,
2001). Yet today, many children struggle to reador don't read
even when they have the skills. At the same time, many parents remain
uninvolved in their child's education.
California Reads is a
comprehensive, research-based recreational reading program designed
to increase reading outside the classroom and help parents promote literacy
behaviors at home. The overarching goal of the program is to increase
independent reading for students of all achievement levels while improving
attitudes toward books and reading.
The program has six aims:
to motivate students to read for fun and to fall in love with reading
to actively engage parents as partners in their children's education,
to offer staff development that helps teachers improve students'
to develop community partnerships that support literacy
to provide additional opportunities for children to practice their
6. to help families learn to moderate their television viewing.
The program's design purposefully integrates the cognitive, motivational,
and social aspects of reading. The primary component of the California
Reads program is a schoolwide Read-a-Thon. The Read-a-Thon
bulletin board (with either a California
Books or It's a Matter of
Character theme) is placed prominently in a public area of the school.
The bulletin board is a wonderful visual representation of the reading
that is going on in the school, and helps to foster the sense of the
school being at the center of a community of readers.
The program runs six to eight months and is managed by parents and/or
other volunteers. Teachers, administrators, and school staff serve
as role models, participating in the read-a-thon along with the students.
California Reads can
be used in diverse learning settings including regular school-year,
year-round, summer school, and before- and after-school programs.
It can be run schoolwide, by grade level, or in individual classrooms.