Spotlight on Children's Reading Foundation of Upper Cumberland

Last Updated by Kate Spears on

This week on WCTE’s Get Ready To Learn radio show, join host Cindy Putman and special co-host Tina Smith, Executive Director of the Children's Reading Foundation of Upper Cumberland, as they discuss the importance of reading in a child’s life. They will also chat about the Read Conference 2017, plus ways to stop the summer slide, Ready For Kindergarten classes, and the importance of 3rd grade for Tennessee students.

Did you know children are learning from the moment they’re born? And from birth to age five, they learn faster than at any other time in their lives! Actively engaging families is the most effective way to make those critical developmental years count.

IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO BEGIN READING WITH YOUR CHILD! Every time you read and talk to your little one, you are building a stronger brain for your rapidly growing child and laying the foundation for a lifelong love of reading.

Plus, this cozy lap time fosters a nurturing relationship that lays the groundwork for raising a happy, confident child! Reading aloud to your baby promotes bonding, which is essential for healthy emotional development. Your tender voice calms your infant so he/she feels safe and secure.

Your baby learns all the sounds and patterns of language just by listening to you. Reading aloud to your toddler develops vocabulary and language skills. Reading together teaches new concepts – like colors and foods – and stimulates your child’s imagination and brain development.

Aim to read books for about 20 minutes a day, or even for just five or 10 minutes at a time when your child is interested. Just a few minutes at various times during the day provides your child big benefits!

So we know that each part of a child’s school experience is important, but what is so important about 3rd grade? It has to do with the CRFUC and a big goal this great organization is setting out to achieve.

The CRFUC or Children's Reading Foundation of the Upper Cumberland has an initiative called Journey Toward The 90%. This is a goal to see that 90% of all 3rd graders will read at or above a 3rd grade level by 2021. It’s a big goal, but one that is so important. Smith reminded us that the kindergarten class that starts the 2107-2018 would be 3rd graders in 2021.

Children from all walks of life must learn to read proficiently. Reading is the most crucial academic skill because it is the foundation for learning. Think about it this way...Through third grade, children are learning to read...after third grade students must read to learn.

But did you know only one-in-three students read proficiently by that point?

Without a strong foundation in reading, children are left behind at the beginning of their education. They lag in every class, year after year because more than 85 percent of the curriculum is taught by reading. And by the end of third grade, 74 percent of struggling readers won’t ever catch up. In fact, one of the most important predictors of graduating from high school is reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

It takes everyone working together to make this goal possible and the CRFUC is working with school districts to present free Ready For Kindergarten classes to parents of children that train parents to work on language and math skills.

It’s also important to think about the Summer Slide, which means that students can lose up to three months of reading skills during the summer break. The slide begins the first week students are out of school. And poor summer reading habits can produce a three-year achievement gap by fifth grade!

The READ Up: Stop the Summer Slide literacy program helps reverse summer reading loss slide by providing opportunities for children to continue to read throughout the summer months. READ Up helps families, caregivers, and children keep reading aloud part of their daily summer routines.

An investment in our children is an investment in stronger communities.

We know that research shows us children need “stable, warm, nurturing relationships and a variety of rich learning opportunities” to develop in healthy ways and explore and make sense of the world around them.

“Every dollar invested in early childhood education produces a 7-10% per annum return in education, health, social, and economic outcomes,” says James Heckman, PhD Nobel Laureate in Economics.

To learn more about The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Upper Cumberland, visit them in Cookeville at 242 E. 10th Street, Foundation Hall, Room 224. You can also call 931-372-6780 or email

We’re looking forward to this year's Upper Cumberland READ Conference taking place at Prescott South Middle School, 1859 S. Jefferson Ave., Cookeville, Tennessee. You can find a registration application at


Tune in each Saturday morning at 9:30 for the WCTE Get Ready To Learn Radio Show, with host Cindy Putman on Zimmer Broadcasting's The HUB 107.7 FM and 1400 AM. 

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WCTE’s Educational Team can customize workshops or professional development trainings for your group or organization. For workshop information, or to inquire about scheduling a workshop, call 921-528-2222 x. 227 or email us.

Topics are listed below:

  • Using Media as a learning tool
  • Using PBS kids apps to extend learning
  • How to be your child’s first teacher
  • Sesame Street Workshops
  • How does poverty effect a child’s brain
  • Literacy and Math
  • Brain Development

Workshops can be conducted in English and Spanish.