Why Reading?

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. ”

– Frederick Douglass

The ability to read is a powerful tool, and Reading In Motion exists to equip children who may otherwise be overlooked with this advantage.

Every year we work with thousands of children at the very start of their formal education. Each of these young students steps into their first days of school filled with anticipation around an entirely new experience. For so many students, this is the beginning of a pathway of possibilities. For many others, those possibilities have already been diminished by factors out of their control and beyond their awareness. Inequities in our education system have determined the quality of a student’s education and greatly influenced their future before they even have the chance to meet their classmates.

In the U.S., where every child has access to a free public education, more than 30 million adults can’t read at a functional level. Among school-aged children, illiteracy is now a national crisis.1 In the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ (NAEP) 2017 Nation’s Report Card, it was exposed that only 37% of all fourth grade students in the U.S. were proficient readers and, in our home-base of Chicago, that number was just 27%.

students in an early childhood reading program | Reading in Motion
children using music and play for reading instruction | Reading in Motion

The academic future for those who haven’t gained appropriate reading skills is dim: NAEP scores at fourth grade are publicly reported predictors of a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school.

To add another layer, the discrepancy between the literate and illiterate is both racial and socioeconomic.

NAEP reported 47% of White fourth graders were proficient readers, with Black and Hispanic students testing far behind them at 20% and 23%, respectively. The difference is more pronounced when looking at income level alone, with only 22% of students from low-income households testing as proficient in reading, compared to 52% of students from more affluent households.2

Investing in every student’s reading ability can counteract this injustice, opening the door to a lifetime of choice and revealing a student’s potential to achieve any number of aspirations. In the best of circumstances, becoming a confident reader gives a child unending access to knowledge, avenues to explore the world, and the means to envision and strive for opportunities beyond their lived experience. Pragmatically, reading well early on has proven to mitigate a number of unnecessary life struggles–dramatically decreasing the likelihood that someone will live in poverty, drop out of highschool, be incarcerated, unemployed, and even succumb to substance abuse as an adult.

two children explore a giant book in an early childhood literacy program | Reading in Motion

Our Mission

To get every student reading at or above grade level within the first years of school through the power and discipline of the arts, especially students whose environment or circumstances put them in greater need of support.

With this charge, we have partnered with hundreds of schools to deliver our highly effective reading improvement program to over 50,000 students in under-resourced communities. By focusing on building foundational reading skills in pre-kindergarten through first graders, we’ve achieved outstanding results for our students that will have a positive impact on the rest of their lives. 


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