Language and Literacy are Everywhere.
By Kim Kuta Dring, Director of Learning and Engagement at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
Who doesn’t love a great story, especially those with interesting scenes that span time frames and cultures to bring far-off places and modern-day perspectives to life? Stories surround us everywhere, and we can experience them not just through the written word, but through the places we go and the things we notice and talk about. The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is one such place with a myriad of stories revealed through its artworks, gardens, programs, events, and more.
Storytelling and sharing through observation and conversation are the building blocks to reading and literacy. But not everyone in our local community reads at the same level or has the same access to the necessary resources and supports. In fact, a community-wide initiative to increase third-grade reading scores and build a culture of literacy in Duval County kicked off in early 2022 to address growing literacy needs. Called READ JAX, this collaborative is spreading the word that reading just 20 minutes a day leads to better academic, economic, and health outcomes. Research released in 2022 by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) noted that third-grade literacy in Duval County overall is at 47 percent, meaning that 47 percent of third graders scored proficient on the most recent English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). This percentage has decreased by four percentage points since 2018. Additionally, their report showed that while approximately 90 percent of Duval County parents know reading is important and 71 percent believe students should read every day, only 33 percent said their children read on their own every day.