OC Reads: Early Literacy in Orange County | Orange County United Way

OC Reads: Early Literacy in Orange County

OC Reads

Helping Kids Enjoy Reading

It’s such a simple pleasure, one that comes with real world rewards—spending time with kids while sharing the enjoyment of a good book.

Reading to kids is the single most important activity a parent or caregiver can do to promote early brain development and lifelong learning success. By simply reading aloud 15 minutes every day to their kids, parents have the power to ensure their children can read proficiently by third grade. Through this selfless act of parental engagement, children learn to read better, imagine more richly, develop more vocabulary and engage in critical thinking. These are the skills that lead to college and career—the building blocks for a good quality of life.

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Facts About Reading to Kids

Many of us may not realize the importance of reading as a critical bridge to success in school, work and life. Studies show that:

  • Children are learning to read until third grade
  • By fourth grade they should be reading to learn
  • After fourth grade, coursework gets harder and reading becomes more challenging
  • Students who don’t read well have increasing difficulty keeping up, leading to bad grades, disengaging from school, and dropping out
  • In fact, children who aren’t reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school*

Early Literacy and Reading Programs in Orange County

Helping prepare our next generation to live happy, healthy, productive lives through early grade reading and literacy programs is one of the most important steps in meeting United Way’s education goal of cutting the high school dropout rate in half by 2024.

As the first United Way on the west coast to rally our neighbors to Read Aloud, our OC Reads program and Read Aloud campaigns have enjoyed tremendous success among the administrators, parents and students participating in the effort.


Orange County United Way’s OC Reads program uses a collaborative approach to getting kids to read early by developing partnerships with local firms that share our commitment to child literacy and early education. By working with our education partners in providing early grade reading grants, students learn to read by the third grade while their parents are encouraged to play an active, ongoing role in their children’s literacy.

To see more on OC Reads, check out this LIVE UNITED moment:

Now is your chance to do some good by helping every parent become their child's first and most important teacher. By signing up today, you’ll be joining over 100+ OC partners, including pediatricians, nurses, libraries and dentists, who are committed to working with parents and caregivers to help their children achieve lifelong learning success.


Read Aloud 15 Minutes is a national campaign encouraging parents to read aloud to their kids 15 minutes every day from birth to age five.

When every child is read aloud to for 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school.

Together, we can build a better future for all students by uniting behind a simple, powerful message: Read Aloud 15 MINUTES. Every child. Every parent. Every day.

For more about the Read Aloud 15 MINUTES Campaign, see this 3 minute video of a Dr. Seuss birthday celebration:

Be proud—join our campaign to read aloud to kids by sharing our messaging via your communication channels to help us reach more parents.

Reading Programs — Tools and Resources

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* Annie E. Casey Foundation Study