RAR Maryland

Raising A Reader  Maryland

Statewide Success in Maryland!

Raising A Reader (RAR) came to 1,000 children in Baltimore, Maryland in 2011 thanks to a generous gift from Target corporation. The very next year, RAR was awarded a federal grant that aimed to bring the program to 12,000 children in Baltimore City Schools. After seeing the success of the program, Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) incorporated RAR into its Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant as an evidence-based method for family engagement.   Today, RAR serves 15,000 families across 13 diverse districts and five Head Start grantees in all geographical corners of the state.

Somerset County in south MD had this to say about their experiences with Raising A Reader:

“Somerset County is a small, rural, diverse and economically challenged county in Maryland.  It is also a county with a lot of energy and excitement focusing on young children and families. We like to say that we are “small but mighty in Somerset County”.   We try to use our size to our advantage and because we are so small, we can sometimes implement projects county-wide that would be impossible in larger counties.

A few years ago, our community received a grant that provided Raising A Reader for our Pre-K students. These “little red bags” were new to our schools but within a short time, teachers, students and families really embraced this program. Families reported that younger siblings wanted these “red bags” too.   Since then, the Judy Center in Somerset County has worked to expand the Raising A Reader initiative to all families with children Birth-5.  This means that children enrolled in all of our partner programs including Early Head Start, Head Start, local child care programs, Pre-K and Kindergarten receive the program! We even partnered with the local library system to support an extra incentive program to families bringing in the RAR blue bags during the summer.  Our librarians were right on board and they reported a record number of “blue library bags” coming in and out of the library this summer.

Somerset County has fully embraced the Raising A Reader program. It is a great way to get quality children’s books into the homes of families that might otherwise not have this opportunity.   With over 500 participants, we are working hard to increase early literacy skills in our very youngest learners!”

Further north in Dorchester County, a rapidly growing part of the state with a self-proclaimed ‘can do’ philosophy, they have also incorporated the Raising A Reader program into their schools. One teacher received a note from a parent that validates the work being done within their community.   The note read:

“Miss Robinson, I wanted to thank you for sending books home every week in the red bag. I never thought that I would get the chance to read to my kids at home and it warms my heart that I can now. Being a single mom can be tough especially when you struggle with making decisions on where to cut corners to save money while still making sure all the bills are paid. All I heard about the first week of schools was how many cool books you read to the class. This made me feel guilty because we cannot afford the books. Now I feel like a good mom because I can read these books to all my kids. They really love it. It brings the family together. Thanks again.”

What we see time and time again are parent and teachers engaging with children, sharing books, stories and experiences, and ultimately making a difference in a child’s life no matter their environment, their surroundings, or their circumstances. Whether rural or urban, small town or big city, Raising A Reader resonates with the people of the community

If you would like to get involved with Raising A Reader in Maryland, contact volunteer@raisingareader.org.

Learn more about the statewide success in Maryland here