GOAL: Engage children in reading activities to assist in achieving appropriate grade-level literacy.

  • Establish partnerships with local elementary, middle, and/or high schools, with 10% of members spending 10 hours per month in service to the school.
  • 50% of Arkansas Methodist churches offering on-site or partnership ministries that increase reading and academic skills as well as a snack, meal, or groceries to take home

Why: The most important predictor of high school graduation is a child’s ability to read by 3rd grade. Children and adults who read below level are more likely to live in poverty.

Grade-level reading statistics in Arkansas paint a difficult picture:

  • 63% of 3rd graders in Arkansas are reading below their grade level.
  • 67% of 4th graders are at or below basic reading ability.
  • Only 29% of 8th graders are proficient at reading compared to 35% nationally.
  • In 2017, students who were eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch, an indicator of low family income, had an average score that was 20 points lower than that for students who were not eligible.1
  • 13.7% of Arkansas adults age 16 and older lack basic literacy.2

Improving literacy skills increases the chances for graduation from high school and greater job opportunities, preparing the next generation of children to have parents with strong literacy skills.

The Nation’s Report Card – Arkansas

Get Started:
Be creative! Talk to the teachers in your church. They know what will be effective!

Current feeding ministries can ask:

  • What would it look like to distribute books at our pantries or meals? Or add Little Free libraries next to our blessing boxes? Or add reading time at meals?
  • Those connected to weekend backpack programs ask how can we serve as tutors at the school?
  • Out-of-school meal programs, what would it like to add an hour of homework time or a book club?

Ministry Ideas:

  • Help children build personal libraries
    • Imagination Library – Offer financial support and help children ages 0-5 sign up to receive 1 free book very month. Every county has a local Imagination Library affiliate.
    • Collect & distribute new books from Scholastic or gently used books from your own libraries.
  • Host Book Clubs for teens, elementary age children, and children ages 0-5
  • Offer summer literacy experiences through VBS or weekly or short intensive programs
  • Offer an after-school ministry that provides reading and homework help
  • Partner with local literacy organizations to provide quality programs, such as your local Literacy Action Council
  • Be an official “Partner in Education” with your local school system (search “Partner in Education” on the internet in your area)
  • Enhance summer or after school programs with online literacy tutoring

Ministry Examples:

Booneville United Methodist Church distributes meals on Thursdays to low income housing areas. They emptied their church library of books that children and their parents would like, distributing books with each meal. Weather permitting, they sit outside with the kids and read for a bit. Contact Mike Smith for more information.

Pulaski Heights United Methodist is a Partner in Education with Wakefield Elementary, providing tutors, a school food pantry, reading in classrooms on special days and purchasing Christmas gifts for over 115 children every year.

Altheimer United Methodist Church will be offering a 4-week Summer Literacy Experience in partnership with AR Kids Read and their local library. Trained tutors will spend time teaching reading skills Monday-Thursday around the lunch hour. Kids meet their tutors at a scheduled time at the library and grab lunch while there. Every kid will go home with new books at the end of the program.

Additional Resources

Additional Book Resources

1 2017 The Nations Report Card – Arkansas (NAEP) –