Reading is Fundamental: A Profile

Mom and young girl reading together

Reading is Fundamental provides support and books for children who might otherwise not have access to them.
Image: Shutterstock

It’s no secret that many children, especially those from lower income families, have trouble keeping up at school, especially with reading. That’s why organizations like Reading is Fundamental (RIF) exist—to promote literacy and provide access to books and fun, educational programming that supports and encourages reading.

RIF is the largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the United States. Their programs assist children and their families by providing access to books and literacy programming. The organization uses more than 400,000 volunteers to meet with children in schools, homeless shelters, and community centers and encouraging reading. They do this with several programming areas that run throughout the year:

Providing access to books

Two-thirds of American children live in poverty without direct access to books at home. Studies have shown that kids who don’t read at home are vulnerable on a variety of fronts, including academics and future job prospects. RIF was founded specifically to provide access to books for these kids so that they don’t have to grow up without being able to enjoy reading. The Books for Ownership program allows children to choose from dozens of books and take their choice home.

Early childhood reading readiness

Many studies have shown how important it is for children to be read aloud to at a young age, particularly for developing critical thinking. In 2007, RIF launched their Leading to Reading website to provide resources for parents and teachers wanting to encourage reading.

Combatting the achievement gap

The US Department of Education has noted the difference in academic performance of children from African American, Hispanic, and American Indian homes versus their white peers. By fourth grade, the former group is usually about three academic years behind the latter group. To combat this, RIF created its Multicultural Literacy Campaign to specifically support multicultural literacy.

Reading motivation

Not all kids are motivated to read for fun, which is even unfortunate both because they miss out on the fun and because studies show children who read for fun have higher reading proficiency scores. RIF’s programs work to encourage a love for reading in kids who might not otherwise get that support.

Preventing the summer reading slide

The “summer reading slide” is what happens to many children when they’re out of school for the summer. If they get no support for reading during the summer, they can fall more than two years behind their classmates. To prevent this from happening, RIF provides resources for parents and teachers to keep kids engaged with reading throughout the summer.


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