Helping Philly Youth "March" into Reading

By Erin S. RSS Fri, March 15, 2024

March is designated as National Reading Month to not only celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss — prolific author of beloved children’s books such as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and Horton Hears A Who — but also to inspire a love of reading at an early age.

Today, there are so many wonderful organizations and programs promoting literacy for our nation’s youth, including Read Across America, Every Child Ready to Read, Reading is Fundamental, and of course, the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Here are a few of the many ways the Free Library is helping kids and teens "March" into reading in our region. First, it’s important to make sure they have their library card! Caregivers can help kids and teens register for a card online or at one of the many Free Library locations. Each branch is home to a plethora of books, audiobooks, e-books, and other resources for children and teens. Placing holds on materials provides convenient access across Free Library branches and — with the interlibrary loan system — even nationwide libraries!


The Literacy Enrichment After-School Program (LEAP)

LEAP is available at Free Library locations throughout Philadelphia at no cost, and registration is not required. Tailored for youth in grades K–12, this inclusive, informal program promotes literacy and a love of reading, provides free homework assistance, and hosts hands-on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) and humanities events. Contact or visit your local library to learn more.


Read, Baby, Read

Read, Baby, Read is a grant-funded Free Library initiative focused on encouraging early literacy development for infants and toddlers (0–24 months old). Read, Baby, Read strives to reduce the achievement gap and increase the availability of early education to families in Philadelphia, especially in low-income communities. This is achieved through a variety of baby-focused programs, such as storytimes, playgroups, baby dance parties, and parent circles.


Read by 4th

According to the Free Library, over 60% of Philadelphia children are not reading at grade level by 4th grade. Read by 4th is a citywide coalition of family, community, and systems leaders working together to increase the number of students in Philadelphia entering the 4th grade at reading level. Convened and managed by the Free Library of Philadelphia since 2016, Read by 4th is here to ensure our children become the strong readers they deserve to be. To learn more, visit

This summer, the Free Library of Philadelphia will also be hosting Summer of Wonder for all ages! Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about other programs for early learners, school-age children, teens, and families.

The Free Library is one of the most important educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia. While the City of Philadelphia provides public funds for the operations of the Free Library, it is through the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation and the generosity of private funding from individuals, foundations, and corporations that the Free Library can offer many of its incredible programs and activities that advance literacy, guide learning, inspire curiosity throughout the region, and help deliver on the promise of an equitable future for all of Philadelphia’s children, families, and communities. Donate to the Free Library Fund.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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