In December 1997, the America Reads Challenge called upon America's colleges and universities, businesses and community organizations to join a national effort to ensure that all children become fluent readers by the end of the third grade. In order to do so, America Reads brought together a national team of volunteers to tutor children in a wide range of settings. Response to this call to volunteerism was supported by dramatic investments made by the Corporation for National Service.
This effort culminated in the passage of the Reading Excellence Act in 1999. Prominent features of the legislation include requirements that all institutions participating in the federal work study program include a literacy tutoring component, and state and local assistance for states and local school districts to improve their literacy programs.
During the past 85 years, the Bank Street College of Education has been educating teachers about the connection between the theory and practice of teaching. Bank Street College is frequently referred to as "America's most trusted name in early childhood education," and is proud to host the Literacy Guide for Volunteer Tutors Website.
At the heart of this national effort are two ideas which are central to the Colleges's mission and values. First is the centrality of early childhood education. Bank Street College places primary emphasis on early childhood education, and strives to ignite the spark in children leading them to a lifetime of learning. Bank Street's approach imbues young children with a curiosity about the world they live in and a love of books. The second value is the importance of each citizen's contribution to society and particularly to its children. National efforts prompted by America Reads and the Reading Excellence Act will bring together members of many communities to work with children in helping them to attain their full learning potential.