Book drive aims to improve early childhood literacy rates

EAGLE COUNTY — Colorado’s lieutenant governor is spearheading an effort to put books in the hands of school children across the state.

The Colorado Early Literacy Initiative combines the United Way, the Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Systems, the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado State Library System.

“At stops in towns and cities across Colorado, we learned that 26 percent of our third-graders are not reading at grade level,” said Lt. Gov. Joseph Garcia. “And that puts their future, and ours, at great risk in an ever more competitive world.”

Third-graders who don’t read proficiently are four times more likely to drop out or flunk out of high school, studies say.

One in six children who does not read proficiently in third grade does not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than for proficient readers, according to the report “Double Jeopardy: How Poverty and Third-Grade Reading Skills Influence High School Graduation,” commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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“If we ignore this issue, the consequences are clear,” Garcia said.

The Colorado Early Literacy Initiative is not a new idea, Garcia said. It builds on efforts that have been around Colorado for more than a decade.

“It reinforces and renews a commitment by business leaders, the foundation community, and our public sectors, to bring greater attention to the problem of illiteracy,” Garcia said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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