We read to succeed

In our community, 1 in 3 third graders is not reading proficiently. Why is reading on grade level by grade three so important? Third grade marks the point when students go from "learning to read" to "reading to learn", setting the stage for future academic success. Check out the research on third-grade reading levels.

Summer Reading Parties

Throughout the summer, we hosted Summer Reading Parties to promote summer learning. These fun-filled events complement summer programming at both Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County Public Schools. Students play games, participate in story time, enjoy literacy-themed activites, gain access to the Massanutten Regional Library summer reading tracker and select free books to read at home during the summer vacation. In 2018, we collected 5756 books to distribute to children during our Summer Reading Parties. We are grateful to the 118 generous volunteers who helped us serve more than 1000 children. 

Reading opens up a world of new opportunities for students!  It can lead to academic success, on-time graduation, and stable employment.  But getting all of our local children reading at grade level is a huge task.  

Our Focus & Goals

  • School Readiness - Children who enter school ready to learn are more likely to succeed.
  • School Attendance - Consistent school attendance improves reading outcomes.
  • Summer Learning - Summer learning opportunities reduce loss of critical academic skills.
Our goals include:
  • Support an interactive web-based list of current training opportunities in our region and maintain opportunities for trainings that support best practices for early childhood development and learning.
  • Provide access to training that supports best practice for early childhood development and high quality childcare.
  • Kindergarten through 3rd grade students regularly attend school and participate in supportive interventions and activities.
  • Increase Summer Reading Party attendance and the number of books distributed to each child.
  • Students will be engaged in meaningful literacy-based summer learning activities to deepen understanding and develop literacy skills.
  • Immigrant families and non-native English speakers will improve their literacy skills.
  • Coordinated developmental screenings and early referral opportunities for developmental progress.

Campaign for grade-level reading

On February 18, 2016, we became a national grade-level reading community.  We join communities across the country who are taking a collective, community-wide approach to addressing literacy.


We Read to Succeed advisory council oversees our progress. Mary Ann Alger chairs the council, which includes representatives from: Harrisonburg City Public Schools, Rockingham County Public Schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Massanutten Regional Library, Harrisonburg Chamber of Commerce, Harrisonburg Rotary Club, James Madison University, Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley, United Way and AmeriCorps VISTA.

Early Literacy

Watch how early literacy impacts the lives of Jamie and Jordan.

Literacy-Based Volunteer Opportunities

There are many different opportunities to volunteer to improve literacy in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. To find out about these opportunities and sign up to volunteer all you have to do is make a profile on Get Connected, our volunteer portal. There, you can find opportunities to help build literacy in our community through partners like the Massanutten Regional Library and Skyline Literacy.