Libraries offering programs to get kids interested in reading at a young age

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Experts say kids need to start reading at a young age. This has prompted libraries like the Fletcher Free Library to get kids engaged with reading at an earlier age.

"We encourage parents to use books as a tool to helping kids with their early learning," said Rebecca Goldberg with the Fletcher Free Library.

That's one way the Fletcher Free Library is helping get young kids engaged with reading at an early age.

According to, one in four children in America grow up without learning how to read. That has a lasting effect. They say students who don't read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school.

"The most important thing is that we help our children to become successful adults," Goldberg said.

Here in Vermont, there have been some improvements. A recent assessment of students' learning in the state found language arts proficiency improved in almost all grades three through nine with fourth-graders improving the most.

But the students with the highest proficiency are in grades seven and eight, with 57 percent of students mastering all the requirements for proficiency. Fifth and ninth grades didn't show improvement, both staying at 55 percent.

It's not just on teachers to help kids. Goldberg says parents should also engage their kids with books even if their children can't yet talk. "We encourage families to be playing with their kids, to be talking with their kids, singing, reading with their kids from an early age," Goldberg said.

She says parents don't have to read the books word for word in order to help their kids. She says just going through the pages and talking about the pictures or just explaining the story is equally as effective. "The library is here to support them in all of that," Goldberg said.

To increase the number of proficient readers, Goldberg says more state money should be pumped into early childhood education. She also wants to see state money for those who can't afford child care to level the playing field for those who do. "Our state is doing a good job, but we could be doing better in that area," Goldberg said.

WCAX has teamed up with Toys for Tots literacy to help provide books to those in need. For more information click here.