Reading Is Fundamental

There are many professional organizations that can help literacy experts stay involved in the profession beyond their classroom or school assignment. Students in the spring semester of READ 6325 explored various professional organizations and are sharing what they learned through this blog series. 

By C. Landeros-Peña

Reading is Fundamental (RIF), is the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit children’s literacy organization. RIF’s mission is to motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life.   RIF’s website, provides a wealth of information about their organization.  RIF also publishes a monthly newsletter that individuals can sign up for free of charge.  

RIF began in Washington, D.C. when Margaret McNamara began letting students she tutored choose and keep books that belonged to her grown children.  Based on that experience, she organized a pilot program in three D.C. public schools. The first RIF book distribution was held on November 3, 1966. Since then RIF aims to provide children with free, new, books and literacy resources.  Priority is placed on reaching low income children from birth to age 8, however children of all ages are eligible to receive RIF services.  There are 17,000 independently managed local RIF sites located throughout the United States. RIF also conducts training for parents, teachers, and education staff on the topic of increasing family literacy engagement and activities. 

Navigating through RIF’s website I was amazed at the amount of resources that are provided for children, teachers, and parents alike. There is a section called Activities which offers different activities for readers of every age and reading level. These activities are fun and provide learning opportunities through interaction with peers and or siblings. These activities are categorized by theme or subject. The activities include a description along with the appropriate age and materials needed.  Included in the Activities section are month activity calendars which provide engaging reading and writing activity suggestions for each day of the month. These calendars are provided in English and Spanish and can be downloaded and printed at no cost. There is another section called Booklists which provides book selections reviewed by experts in the field.  Included are booklists from Caldecott and Newbery Winners to young adult and Multicultural books.  The section called Articles provides a comprehensive guide to reading challenges and solutions for parents and teachers.  The articles explore a variety of topics and provide helpful tips in an easy to read format. I found the section called Brochures to be really helpful in promoting the habit of reading in families. RIF has done a wonderful job of developing brochures that promote better reading habits in colorful, easy to read and in an array of topics.  These brochures are available in English and Spanish. The last section called Multicultural is an effort to promote and support early childhood literacy in African American, Hispanic, and American Indian communities.  This section provides interactive websites, articles, and booklists. 

RIF is an organization that provides much needed literacy resources and support to children in a variety of settings such as schools, libraries and daycare centers. Their success is in part to the 500,000 dedicated volunteers. Individuals may become volunteers by logging on to the RIF website which directly links them to volunteer opportunities in their own areas. 

Overall, I found that Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is an organization that is providing an invaluable service to many children, teachers, and parents nationwide.  Their website also provides many wonderful resources that are sure to help motivate children in becoming lifelong readers.


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