Increasing the literacy rates of America's children has always been the main aim of Reading is Fundamental campaign. To that effect, the group is launching a new campaign with a goal to inspire a generation of children with the love of reading by melding together two seemingly-separate fields: arts and STEM. The campaign launch is timed to coincide with the release of RIF's 2012-13 Multicultural Book Collection made up of 40 children's books that cover topics falling under the STEAM-themes of science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Carol H. Rasco, President and CEO of RIF, knows what kind of child she is looking to inspire. She is looking to hook the kids that could become tomorrow's innovators like Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. By seeking to engage with a child's natural curiosity at a younger age, books can impart skills that will be essential to tomorrow's pioneers in the fields of both arts and science.
Rasco added, "This initiative is about inspiring the innovators of tomorrow early with engaging books and resources that connect the dots between science, technology and the arts from broad-ranging cultural perspectives. From DaVinci to Madame C.J. Walker to Steve Jobs, our greatest innovators are those who are as creative as they are precise, as imaginative as they are methodical. STEAM-based learning aims to nurture every facet of innovation."
RIF's library will come with a free downloadable collection of related activities that will help parents and educators make strides in children's literacy development. The activities adhere to Common Core Standards, which have been adopted by more than 45 states.
A great deal of thought and effort goes into selecting books for RIF's yearly releases. Each candidate is thoroughly reviewed by the Literacy Services team using guidelines set out by the Literature Advisory Board and Multicultural Advisory Committee made up of educators and other industry experts in the literature aimed at children.
"What makes this collection unique is our insistence that each book present diverse characters and stories," Dr. Judy Cheatham, RIF's vice president of literacy services. "When children see themselves in the books they read at a young age, they are motivated to read more books and read more often. Books are powerful mirrors and windows for all of us."
The effort to raise the interest in reading among U.S. kids could not be more timely in light of the fact that the U.S. ranks 14th out of 30 developed countries in reading according to findings in the Program for International Student Assessment and the National Assessment of Education Progress reports. There also exists a substantial literacy gap between white and Asian-American students and their African-American and Hispanic peers.
"Our focus on STEAM literacy ultimately supports a national priority to ensure all American students receive the skills and knowledge required for success in the 21st century workplace."