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Early literacy supports education from early-grade reading through in-school and after-school programs.

United Way is committed to the educational success of every child in Orange County and believes that the key ingredient for life long success lies in establishing a fundamental love for reading. Studies show that a child reading proficiently by the end of third grade is more likely to graduate high school because the end of third grade marks the point when children transition from learning to read, to using reading to learn other subjects. For this very reason, United Way has adopted various early grade literacy efforts.

Early Literacy and Reading Programs in Orange County

As the first United Way on the west coast to rally our neighbors to Read Aloud 15 Minutes to kids, our early grade reading programs enjoy tremendous success among the administrators, parents and students who share our commitment to child literacy and early education.

Read Aloud 15 Minutes


The Read Aloud 15 Campaign encourages parents and/or caregivers to read aloud to kids 15 minutes every day from birth to age five to ensure children are reading proficiently by third grade.

We also provide our community partners relevant materials and encourage them to reach out to their unique constituencies and communicate that 15 minutes of daily reading aloud from birth to age 8 can change the face of education in our community.

Little Free Library


Our Little Free libraries are located in community centers, schools, doctor’s offices and more –make books available to children who may not otherwise have access to building a home library. With a “take one, leave one” concept, children can borrow a book and leave a book to share with others.

The books are free and replenished by Orange County United Way with donations from our annual book drive.

Orange County United Way is helping prepare our next generation to live happy, healthy, productive lives through early grade reading and literacy programs. It’s one of the most important steps in meeting United Way’s

FACE 2.0 Education Goal: Increase the high school graduation rate to 95% among students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.

Why Read Aloud?

Language Development

The number of words that child knows on entering kindergarten is a key predictor of his or her future success

Instill a Love of Reading

Your example demonstrates that reading is important, pleasurable and valued

Knowledge Gained and Shared

Kids books are a pleasure, yes, and they are also informative–children can learn something new as you read out loud

Literacy Skill Building

Vocabulary. Phonics. Familiarity with the printed word. Storytelling. Reading comprehension. Reading aloud builds literacy and reading skills!

Brain Development

From birth to age 3 are critical years in the development of language skills


Is anything better than sharing a good book?

Facts About Reading to Kids

The importance of reading is a critical bridge to success in school, work and life. When children read better, they imagine more richly, develop more vocabulary and engage in critical thinking—skills that lead to college and career, and the building blocks for a good quality of 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 proficiency 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*

* Annie E. Casey Foundation Study

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