LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—AR Kids Read, a local initiative that recruits and trains tutors to help Central Arkansas
children learn to read at grade level, distributed more than 7,000 children’s books that will reach students in
44 public schools in three school districts: Little Rock School District, North Little Rock School District and
Pulaski County Special School District.
The distribution began at Booker Elementary School today where students, teachers, volunteers and school
administrators gathered as AR Kids Read presented the donated books in coordination with its tutoring
efforts at local schools. Leadership Greater Little Rock Alumni Association volunteers will deliver the
remaining books to other schools later this week.
“Children who do not have easy access to books or the opportunity to participate in summer educational
activities are at risk of losing up to three months in reading achievement during the summer,” said Stacy
Sells, AR Kids Read board member and education advocate. “Efforts such as AR Kids Read’s end of the
school year book distribution can help minimize this summer learning loss,” she said.
The distribution of books—donated by Reading Is Fundamental-RIF (with support from Macy’s), the
Arkansas Education Television Network, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Delta Dental and
Books-A-Million—is part of a larger state-wide effort to ensure children continue reading during the
summer and are able to read at grade level by the end of third grade.
National data shows that nearly 70 percent of students in Central Arkansas have not mastered reading
by the 4th grade and in Pulaski County alone more than 12,500 children in kindergarten through 5th
grade are not reading on grade level. 65% of those not reading at grade level are likely to drop out
before graduating from high school, will struggle to find employment, and are at risk of entering the
criminal justice system.
According to AR Kids Read Executive Director Charlie Conklin, helping children learn to read at grade
level is not just a school district issue, but a broader community issue. “Recruiting volunteer children’s
reading tutors from all parts of the community, helping parents to encourage reading, and working to
provide improved access to books is having a positive impact on Arkansas families,” he said.
AR Kids Read recruits, trains and supports tutors who donate one hour a week for 12 weeks each semester
in 46 participating elementary schools in the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special
School Districts. The program works with more than 50 partner organizations including businesses,
churches, civic organizations and others to work with students in a one to one or one to small group
setting to help with reading comprehension. To become a volunteer or to learn more, visit
www.ARKidsRead.org or contact Traci Wheelis at twheelis@ARKidsRead.org or
Charlie Conklin at cconklin@ARKidsRead.org.