Promoting Literacy with the Free Library of Philadelphia

By Free Library Foundation RSS Thu, April 4, 2024

National Library Week is April 7–13, 2024, and we encourage everyone to visit the Free Library of Philadelphia to celebrate this year’s theme: Ready, Set, Library!

But first, let’s take a look at some local literacy statistics. The Pennsylvania Department of Education reports that 13% of adults in our state lack basic literacy skills. In the city of Philadelphia, that number jumps to 52%. According to Read by 4th, a Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation division, Philly schools rank fourth from the bottom in reading of the 26 big-city districts, and 71% of 4th graders in Philadelphia are not reading at grade level.

Read by 4th

Sharing books with children is essential in building a foundation for literacy, and thankfully, Read by 4th notes that 65% of Philly families report reading almost every day or more. 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. Managed by the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, Read by 4th is here to ensure our children become the strong readers they deserve to be. Please visit the Free Library and Read by 4th websites for more information on the importance of early literacy and tips to encourage a lifelong love of reading.

One Book, One Philadelphia

We invite you to join us this spring for One Book, One Philadelphia, a signature project of the Free Library of Philadelphia that promotes literacy, library usage, and civic dialogue by encouraging the entire Greater Philadelphia area to come together through reading and discussing a single book. This year, One Book, One Philadelphia runs from April 8–May 22, and there are selections for adults (True Biz by Sara Nović), teens (You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner), and kids (Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus and illustrated by Polly Dunbar). Access them all at the Free Library, and sign up for the One Book, One Philadelphia newsletter to learn about upcoming events!

Beyond Books

The Free Library’s vision is to build an enlightened community devoted to lifelong learning. There are 54 Free Library locations across the region, and library cards are available at no cost to anyone who lives, works, pays taxes, or goes to school in the City of Philadelphia. Simply sign up in person, online, or by mail. In addition to a vast and easy-to-use catalog of books, audiobooks, e-books, and online resources, the Free Library also hosts vital programs and services to promote literacy, including:

Through the help of annual memberships and donations, the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation funds many of the Library's programs and services that promote literacy for Philadelphia families and neighborhoods. We thank you for supporting our collective mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity for readers of all ages.

Please follow the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter/X, and LinkedIn!

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 the Library’s 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.

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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