Building Bigger

Page Ahead’s Story Leaders Program

Provide new books and reading activities to empower at-risk children

Babies in families who receive government assistance are exposed to an average of 616 words per hour compared to an average of 2,153 words in better-off families. By the time children from low-income families enter preschool, they are already behind their peers. That’s where Page Ahead’s Story Leaders program comes in.

Based on research that shows shared reading can rapidly develop vocabulary and language skills, Story Leaders trains preschool teachers in shared reading techniques and provides students eight free books during the school year to take home, building home libraries and preliteracy skills and reinforcing the home–school connection.

In the Highline district south of Seattle, the most recent data shows that only 33 percent of low-income kindergartners meet kindergarten readiness standards. Bringing Story Leaders to Highline preschoolers in government-supported preschools will give those little learners a powerful head start on literacy!

Highline educators approached Page Ahead because their hardworking preschool teachers—and busy families—need more resources for their students. “Last year, with online schooling, we could actually see into families’ homes,” we heard from Maria, a Highline instructional coach. “You could see there are not books there. I am really interested in Story Leaders because it enables our students to bring books into their homes.”

Story Leaders is delivered to more than 1,000 preschools across Washington already. The need in Highline is such that Page Ahead is willing to take on a 30% expansion of the program in one year—but they can’t do it without support from the community. Story Leaders only costs $82 per student to deliver, so a Neighborhood Assist grant of $25,000 would cover the costs for ALL 300 Highline preschoolers who will participate in Story Leaders next year!

Story Leaders helps to dismantle the literacy opportunity gap that's too often experienced by children of color and children from oppressed communities—before that gap becomes irreversible.

In Highline, preschoolers who participate in Story Leaders will end the school year with eight brand-new books and stronger preliteracy skills (such as listening to and asking questions about stories). Students will also spend more time reading at home: 83% of Story Leaders families reported stronger home reading routines thanks to the program last year. And these home libraries and habits won’t just benefit these preschoolers—any little siblings will also grow up with those books and reading supports in the home, too.

Lack of book access and reading exposure in early childhood accounts for 20% of the literacy opportunity gap experienced by low-income kids, so investing in Story Leaders to build Highline children’s preliteracy skills and home libraries will make an impact for a lifetime!