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Local Community and Nonprofit Leaders Launch ‘Read Together’

Collaborative initiative aims to raise awareness around home reading routines and ultimately support strong literacy outcomes for children birth through third grade

Charlotte, N.C. — July 11, 2023 — Read Charlotte and a group of 16 partner organizations announced a new initiative today promoting shared reading at home, a strong way to help children develop and grow critical early literacy skills. The Read Together campaign is a collaborative effort to raise awareness among families in Mecklenburg County about the importance of the simple yet powerful practice of establishing routines for regularly reading together at home.

When an adult and a child read together, it helps children build their vocabulary, oral language, and listening comprehension skills. It’s an opportunity for adults to model proficient reading, including reading with fluency and good expression. Reading fiction books helps children develop a deeper understanding of how stories work. Reading nonfiction books about topics like plants, animals, and space helps build knowledge and understanding about the world around them. Even reading with students who are already reading proficiently is important.

Shared book reading can provide opportunities for important conversations, exploration into unknown experiences and topics, and a chance to access books beyond their current skill level. Along with classroom instruction that explicitly teaches children to read written language, these ingredients combine to help all children become strong readers in elementary school.

Read Charlotte Executive Director Munro Richardson explains that the Read Together campaign was motivated by a call to action from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

“In Spring 2023, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools staff reported to the school board about the reading levels of Black and Hispanic third grade students. This report showed that over 90% of these students needed language skill supports. It’s well established that a children’s book is one of the most powerful tools we have to build language skills. In fact, we’d wager that virtually all third graders in our community who score at College and Career Ready on the annual state reading assessment have adults in their lives who regularly read together with them. Along with our partners, we want to help make reading together at home with an adult a common experience for more children in our community.”

One key part of the Read Together campaign is to make shared reading more relatable with examples of real Charlotte-Mecklenburg families. The campaign aims in part to lessen the pressure on families by showing that reading together with their children can happen in a variety of ways. Families across the city have been involved in the project, sharing insights on how they make reading part of their weekly routines and what inspires them to continue it.

“When I was growing up, my grandmother would read to me. We had the best time! She would make up funny voices for characters and encourage me to make up stories of my own. I believe this was the seed being planted without my knowing. I hope my son takes these moments and allows his creativity to go wild! I hope he looks back on our mommy and me reading dates and smiles,” says Charlotte-area mother Journee Ma’Lynne Edwards.

Community partners involved in the Read Together effort aim to have more children in Mecklenburg County experience shared reading for years to come, and are working toward that goal through raising awareness, creating resources, and helping to identify and remove possible barriers. Families for whom English is a second language will be encouraged by Read Together partner agencies to read with their multilingual children in their native languages. Building vocabulary, oral language, and listening comprehension skills in a child’s first language supports the process of learning the same skills in English is a free resource for families and community members, with easy-to-follow tips on three types of reading together: reading to a child, reading with a child, and a child reading to you. The website also includes information on book access programs in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area.

“Partnering with Read Charlotte gives Charlotte-Mecklenburg students the opportunity to improve their reading skills and deepen the bonds between children and their families,” said Dr. Crystal Hill, district superintendent. “In my end of year message to families I encouraged reading every day during the summer months to minimize the learning lag that usually comes without daily classroom activity. The Read Together campaign fills the gap and helps to ensure that our students return in the fall ready to participate in engaged learning to achieve academic excellence.”

“Reading together is paramount to the work Charlotte Mecklenburg Library does every day to support our community of young readers, so this campaign is a natural fit,” explains Marcellus “MT” Turner, CEO and Chief Librarian of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. “We are excited to continue our partnership with Read Charlotte and unite with other literacy focused partners to Read Together and build a community of readers.”

The collective work behind this effort will continue to broaden past the campaign launch, with community partners collaborating on direct work with children and families. These partners will collaborate on efforts that provide books to children, workshops for families, and promote shared reading at schools and in the community.

The countywide Read Together campaign is a critical component of Read Charlotte’s updated strategic approach, community goals, and deadlines through 2030. More details are available in Read Charlotte’s strategy report.

About Read Charlotte
Read Charlotte is a community initiative that unites educators, community partners, and families to improve children’s reading from birth to third grade. We don’t run programs. We are a capacity-building intermediary that supports local partners to apply evidence-based knowledge about effective reading instruction and interventions, high-quality execution, continuous improvement, and data analysis to improve reading outcomes. Read Charlotte is a public-private partnership administered by the Foundation For The Carolinas.


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