Community Magazine

SMART Celebrates 20 Years Helping Kids Learn to Love Reading!

By Jean Campbell

There is a reading program in Oregon that is well-worth duplicating across the nation! is a nonprofit organization that utilizes the resources of its communities, its people, to not only help children learn to read, but to love to read. For two decades, thousands of individuals, businesses and community partners have joined SMART in the effort to inspire a love of reading in Oregon’s children, providing valuable one-on-one reading support, adult mentoring and books for those who need it most.

readingThe SMART reading program helps kids become confident readers by providing individual volunteer attention and new, take-home books. Each year the organization recruits, trains and manages up to 10,000 volunteers throughout Oregon. Read about the effect SMART has on children, volunteers and supporters

Since 1992 SMART has helped 130,000 children with reading, given away 1.8 million books, and enlisted the help of 90,000 volunteers contributing over 2.8 million hours.

Reasons why programs like Smart .org are so needed across the USA:

  • In 1999, only 53 percent of children aged 3 to 5 were read to daily by a family member. Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read aloud to everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above the poverty line.

  • 21 million Americans can’t read at all, 45 million are marginally illiterate and one-fifth of high school graduates can’t read their diplomas.

  • Nearly half of America’s adults are poor readers, or “functionally illiterate.” They can’t carry out simply tasks like balancing check books, reading drug labels or writing essays for a job.

  • Forty-four percent of American 4th grade students cannot read fluently, even when they read grade-level stories aloud under supportive testing conditions.

  • 50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book.

Source for Statistics: National Center for Educational Statistics, NCES Fast Facts-Family Reading

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