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Lehigh Valley Reads Builds Literacy Campaign

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BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WLVT) - In the Lehigh Valley, one in three fourth graders starts the year reading below grade level. It’s an issue that impacts students, their families and the community, so, a local campaign is working on making sure every child is on track.

Lehigh Valley Reads is powered by PBS39 and United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. The goal is to get all third grade students reading at grade level by the year 2025.

The initiative came to Northampton Community College on Tuesday to give supporters a better idea of how literacy impacts a person from "cradle to career."

"We decided to make it not just an event but an experience, so that people can actually see what happens in a community when you get the right resource to the right children at the right time," said campaign director Angela Zanelli.

Students learn to read from kindergarten to third grade, Zanelli said, and they read to learn after that. She said literacy affects the whole community in one way or another.

"We want to make sure that we have children that have every opportunity to succeed today, but then also in our future, because they’re our leaders," she said. "They’re our next elected officials. They’re our next set of parents and community leaders and philanthropists."

The campaign is launching a “Million Minute Challenge," encouraging everyone in the Lehigh Valley to read a million minutes collectively during the month of March 2020.