What We Do
EnjoyReading, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in Washington, DC, plans to combat city-wide low reading performance by its public school children without access to books at home or in school libraries. Research shows that creating a steady stream of new, age-appropriate books has been shown to nearly triple interest in reading within months. We believe one of the best ways to increase reading performance is for students to have access to high quality books they choose -- books they WANT to read.
The elementary schools with the highest poverty rates and the highest percentage of students who are black or Hispanic are experiencing this crisis firsthand.
- Only 12% of black students and 19% of Hispanic students scored on grade level in Reading in the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).
- Over 16,000 students attending the District's lowest performing schools do not have access to a school library.
- 1 percent of low-income families have no age-appropriate books for their children in their homes (Jumpstart).
- nly 36 percent of low-income parents read to their children every day (Educational Testing Service).
- ids living in Wards 7 and 8 in the District grow up with some of the highest unemployment and illiteracy rates in the country.
Yet, EnjoyReading knows research shows that:
- The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of low-income children is to increase their access to print. (Fight Crime; Invest in Kids).
- Students who report more types of reading material at home show higher-than-average reading test scores (U.S. Department of Education).
- Reading aloud to young children is one of the best ways to make sure children are ready to read on grade level (Reach Out and Read).
- Creating a steady stream of new, age-appropriate books has been shown to nearly triple interest in reading within months (First Book).
EnjoyReading co-founder Ali Hoffman’s fondest early memory of reading was going to the Gladwyne Public Library and getting her library card. This, to Ali, was a right of passage -- the ability to choose which books she would borrow and read from the library was the mark of a growing reader. Ali’s ability to choose her own books was how and why she fell in love with reading from a young age.
EnjoyReading co-founder Rachel Scheer recalls spending hours in laps and in bed, being read to by her mother or father. It was her father’s voice that made her fall in love with the characters, plots, and landscapes of books like ‘The Little House’ series, ‘Treasure Island’, ‘Heidi’, and more. And it was this precious time spent with books, and her parents, that created a lifelong reader in Rachel.
Just like Rachel and Ali, the peers with whom they grew up were showered with books from infancy on. Parents routinely took their children to the library to participate in programs and to check out books or to bookstores to choose books to buy and take home with them. These children were read to every night by their parents, and they were enrolled in preschools where trained teachers taught an early-literacy curriculum. This passion for reading is what brought Ali and Rachel into the classroom and to pursue their advanced degrees in literacy education.
The children growing up in the District’s Wards 7 and 8 are having totally different experiences than Rachel and Ali; as nearly half the children in Ward 8 live in poverty. In January, Bloomberg News reported that the unemployment rate in Ward 8 was 25.2 percent, making it the highest in the nation. The unemployment rate in Ward 7 was 19 percent, more than double the national average. Wards 7 and 8 also have the highest adult illiteracy rates in the District. A 2007 report on adult literacy in the District issued by the University of the District of Columbia State Education Agency found that 50.4 percent of the adults in Ward 7 and 48.9 percent of the adults in Ward 8 were functionally illiterate.
Rachel and Ali’s students in their own elementary school classrooms largely had difficulty learning to read, and were one, two, even three grades below their’ grade’s reading level. Rachel and Ali felt that their students’ difficulty in learning to read, and to appreciate books streams from the great differences in the way they interact with books outside of the school classroom. Rather than complain about the problem Ali and Rachel decided to act; EnjoyReading was created to bridge these gaps and to improve literacy in the District’s lowest performing schools.
The mission of EnjoyReading is to improve the literacy of students in the District of Columbia’s lowest-performing elementary schools by giving students access to engaging and enjoyable books and by offering high-quality literacy activities to students and their families. Three core values guide EnjoyReading’s work:
Children should be given the opportunity to choose books themselves from a selection of interesting, enjoyable and age-appropriate books.
Children need to be exposed to a large variety of genres throughout the year, exposure which they do not otherwise have when there is no library and when free books are haphazardly and irregularly donated.
- Literacy activities should offer children and their families opportunities to experience the joy of reading and not focus solely on instruction.
Executive Director: Ali Hoffman
Ali Hoffman discovered a love of reading in third grade, from her teacher Ms. Yashen. Ms. Yashen’s bookworm program allowed students to self select their reading books, self monitor progress and provided incentives for books completed. Until third grade, and even today, you wont find Ali finishing a reading she doesn’t enjoy. As an adult, she pursued those interestes with a B.A. in Education from American University and has been active in the DC Public School system as an intern, teacher and consultant for 10 years. Ali’s coursework at Penn was both in the Reading/Writing/Literacy program in the ed school as well as the Wharton/Social Work combined Non Profit Leadership Program.
Chair: Rachel Scheer
Rachel Scheer discovered a love of reading, writing, and publishing from an early age with the support of her parents and teachers. As an adult, she pursued those interests with a B.A. in English from the College of William and Mary and an MS.Ed. in Reading/Writing/Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania. Rachel holds certification as a Reading Specialist. She has worked as a fifth grade classroom teacher, a technology teacher, and in public affairs for nonprofit and government sectors. She currently teaches First Grade at an independent school in Northern Virginia.
Board of Directors: