Fresno Unified launches 'Every Child is a Reader' campaign to improve literacy

The initiative includes a focus on early learning with expanded TK classes, plus assessments and extra support.

Jessica Harrington Image
Saturday, November 4, 2023
Fresno Unified launches 'Every Child is a Reader' campaign to improve literacy
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Fresno Unified School District is launching a new program to improve student literacy.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Unified School District is launching a new program to improve student literacy.

Cracking open a book is easy to do if you know how to read.

If not, it can be daunting.

"Kids who don't read don't feel great about coming to school every day," FUSD Superintendent Bob Nelson said.

Nelson says that's why the district is launching the 'Every Child is Reader' campaign.

The goal is to get every student reading at grade level by the end of first grade.

"What we want to do is make sure that every child has the opportunity to actually learn to read or to get intervention as early as we can possibly get it so that we intervene as early as we possibly can," Nelson said.

The initiative includes a focus on early learning with expanded TK classes, plus assessments and extra support.

Literacy Mentor Gabby Vargas is one of the people in the classroom focused on keeping students up to speed.

"I come in the mornings and work with students one on one, pull them aside," Vargas said.

We caught up with her while she was working at Heaton Elementary School with Jocelyn, a 4th grade student.

They work on common words used in English and words that aren't pronounced the way they're spelled.

To keep it interesting, Vargas allows students to choose from a variety of games and reading material.

She says empowering each student to make choices about how they want to learn helps the entire process.

"It's so important for them to even feel confident in themselves," Vargas said.

Superintendent Nelson says through the new 'Every Child is a Reader' campaign and through added support from literacy mentors like Vargas, they can start to transform students' lives and ultimately transform the communities where they live.

"This literacy initiative has a very real possibility to make things better for everybody across the Valley," Nelson said.

The district says parents can help support the initiative by reading at home with their children, even if it's reading with them in their primary language that's not English.

They say the best way to get a kid interested in reading is to make sure they like the topic of the book they're reading.

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