4 questions Read Charlotte must answer to make a difference

Munro Richardson, Read Charlotte’s executive director
Munro Richardson, Read Charlotte’s executive director

Read Charlotte wants to double the percentage of children reading at grade level – and the group’s points of attack are now coming into focus.

The new community initiative believes it can rally Charlotte’s literacy efforts behind the goal of getting the percentage of third-graders reading proficiently from 40 percent to 80 percent over the next decade.

The group’s recently installed executive director, Munro Richardson, has spent the last few months meeting with groups across the city. On Tuesday, he spoke before the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum, a weekly gathering of the city’s political and community leaders with roots in west Charlotte.

In his talk, Richardson laid out four questions that need to be answered to actually move the needle on reading skills.

▪ How do we get more caregivers to read, sing and play with infants and toddlers? Richardson said the path to reading proficiency begins at birth, and one of the most critical elements is making sure babies’ brains are stimulated from the beginning. One of ReadCharlotte’s task forces will focus on day cares, preschools and home caregivers.

Kids’ brains are on fire the first months of their lives

Munro Richardson, executive director of Read Charlotte

▪ How can we get more children kindergarten-ready? Ideally, children would come to kindergarten knowing their letters and numbers, but Richardson said some students enter school not knowing how to even hold a book. If they start behind, it’s very difficult to catch them up, he said.

▪ How do we make sure children maintain school year gains? Study after study has shown that a lot of students lose ground during the summer months.

▪ How do we make sure children are progressing? If teachers and parents only realize a child is behind in reading at the end of third grade, it’s too late, Richardson said.

Read Charlotte has a budget of $5.5 million behind it, offices at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library uptown and the backing of Foundation for the Carolinas.

The group won’t run programs itself, but hopes to be an “air traffic controller” for the dozens of organizations tackling literacy in Charlotte.

Dunn: 704-358-5235;

Twitter: @andrew_dunn