Read Across America Day, a day to celebrate and encourage reading

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NEW YORK — Monday marks the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss. It's also known as National Read Across America Day, a day to celebrate and encourage reading.

Only about a third of American fourth graders are reading on grade level, according to a 2019 report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. That leaves millions of kids in need of better reading skills.

"Of those children, they're four times less likely to graduate from high school on time," says Karine Apollon, CEO of Reading Partners.

The organization works with more than 11,000 elementary students around the country.

The program pairs young children with staff tutors as well as community volunteers to practice reading one-on-one.

"From first grade to third grade, children learn to read and then there's that transition in the fourth grade where they read to learn, and so if they can't read by fourth grade then they cannot learn," Apollon says.

According to Reading Partners, children should read at home daily.

The group says parents should also talk to children about what they are reading to make sure they understand the books.

Program manager Alli Hoyle works at a New York City school with nine-year-old Omari and his fourth grade classmates. Hoyle says the benefits of reading aren't just seen in the classroom, children learn other valuable lessons for life.

"Resiliency. Kids are not afraid to give up. When they get to a hard word, they try and try again until they get it right," she says.

Hoyle says once the skills click, so does the students' confidence.

The hard work is paying off for Omari. He says he's noticed that his reading is better. And it's just the beginning. Omari's goal is to be a lawyer someday.

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