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The COVID-19 pandemic won't stop Read Across America Day

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofit organizations and companies across the country are banning together to present Read Across America Day Tuesday, March 2.

The National Education Association's Read Across America Day is the nation's largest celebration of reading, and the organization expected more than 45 million readers, both young and old, will be picking up a book to read that day.

How the pandemic affected the learning gap

Everywhere people look, the pandemic affected families experiencing economic hardship and their children's educational success. Whether it's online or hybrid learning, many families have adapted to new systems and routines, but where does that change leave reading?

Before the pandemic, many San Diego families were already struggling to meet reading requirements due to lack of time and access to resources with 45% of the county's third graders not reading at grade level. On average, students could lose five to nine months of learning by the end of June 2021. Students of color could be six to 12 months behind.

While studies show that enhancing a child's access to books at home has a significant impact on their long-term learning, many students in the San Diego County community do not have enough age-appropriate books in their home libraries.

Throughout San Diego County, many nonprofit organizations are working to close this learning gap to give all students the same opportunities. United Way of San Diego County host its annual Read Across America Day celebration to help support our families and students during these difficult times.

Ways to celebrate and support Read Across America Day

To commemorate National Read Across America Day, United Way of San Diego County in partnership with Warwick's in La Jolla with the support of Holman Enterprises and GEICO will host a month long virtual book drive from Feb. 15 through March 12.

Local companies and individuals are donating new and diverse children's books to help spark the love of reading in students throughout San Diego County. Books in Spanish and stories that represent different cultures are requested.

At the end of the virtual drive, UWSD and its partners hope to collect 1,500 books to increase children's access to books at home and foster a generation of readers.

All books will be donated to San Diego children in need to help enhance their home libraries. In addition to donating a book, financial contributions can also be made directly to UWSD to help the nonprofit support childhood literacy and close learning gaps.

Help foster literacy in the community by doing one or all of the following: donate a book to a child in need; make the commitment to read with your child every night and/or every day; volunteer to read to your child's virtual classroom and read a book to a child in your neighborhood or extended family while safely social distancing, of course.

Read Across America gives local San Diego families an opportunity to celebrate diverse stories and the love of reading, as well as encourage children at any age to read, imagine and explore.

Learn more and support our communities in need at

Nancy Sasaki is the president and CEO of United Way of San Diego County, a nonprofit organization that collaborates countywide with school districts, businesses, the public sector, nonprofits, philanthropy and social services on the best ways to support early childhood success, youth success and family stability.

Submitted by United Way of San Diego County.


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