Theory of Change
In New York City, an astounding 73% of low income 4th-grade students do not read at a proficient level. Countless reports have found that access to books and engagement in reading are the keys to increasing literacy. Despite this, most schools serving low-income youth must emphasize test preparation over reading engagement and do not have the funds for adequate libraries. As a result, in New York City, only 63% of students graduate high school (compared to 70% nationwide) and 71% of students in fourth grade are not proficient in reading.
It is in this climate that Behind the Book works to elevate literacy among disadvantaged students by increasing their love for books and their ability and desire to express their ideas and emotions in writing, as well as by augmenting their under-resourced schools’ literacy curricula and library collections.
Our approach to our school reading initiatives is based on engagement, one of six criteria the No Child Left Behind Act cites as key to developing readers. Studies have repeatedly confirmed that children who are engaged read more and children who read more have better literacy skills: they have better reading comprehension, they write better, spell better, have more expansive vocabularies, and have a better understanding of grammatical structures.