United Way

Raising a reader

Children’s Early Literacy Program

raising a reader

United Way of Kern County's Raising A Reader program serves more than 200 children at preschools in Bakersfield, Arvin, Shafter and Delano. Raising A Reader’s mission is to engage parents in a routine of daily “book cuddling” with their children from birth to age five to foster early brain development, parent-child bonding, and early literacy skills critical for school success. Raising A Reader rotates bright red bags filled with award-winning books into children’s homes on a weekly basis. United Way of Kern County's Raising a Reader program focuses on 3- and 4-year-olds in order to prepare them to start kindergarten.

Raising A Reader offers award-winning books that are appropriate for children ages 3-5. Books are chosen for high quality writing, beautiful illustrations, and accurate portrayals of diverse cultures and ethnicities. Because 90% of families in the program reported Spanish as their primary language spoken in the home, our book selections include Spanish and bi-lingual books.


Raising A Reader Results

  • On average, each child is exposed to approximately 100 books per school year
  • The number of minutes per day a parent or someone in the household spends reading to their children significantly increased by 29%
  • The number of times a parent takes their child to the library increased by 178%
  • The frequency of times the child requests a parent or other person in the household to read books increased by 46%

Raising A Reader also connects families to their local public library

At the culmination of the program, each child receives a blue library bag to keep and continue the practice of borrowing books and “book cuddling." After benefitting from the Raising A Reader program, children will enter kindergarten with a love of books and ready to learn to read.
Our goal is to Raise More Readers.

We can with your help.

For more information please contact our Education Manager, Andrea Flores at (661) 885-5731


Engaging parents in daily reading with their children from birth to five years, fosters healthy brain development, parent-child bonding, and early literacy skills critical for school success.

Raising a Reader Garden Pathways Preschooler enjoys receiving his RAR blue book bag and a balloon after touring Beale Library with book reading & craft time.

little girl with bookbag

Children and families fall in love with reading from the very beginning.

Rachel Hoetker United Way of Kern County's Community Impact Investment Manager reads "Jump Frog Jump" to Richardson Center Preschoolers.

kids with books bookbags

 Children who participate in the Raising a Reader program build kindergarten readiness skills.


Our Focus

Early Childhood Literacy

Financial Stability


We are all part of this community and together we can make it succeed. At United Way of Kern County we believe that UNITED we can make change happen... one day at a time.