Reading Up on Child Literacy

How low-income housing affects youth literacy rates and how to get involved in your community.

On Wednesday April 5th at 8:00pm Proud Larry’s is partnering with United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County to present LOU Reads: A Benefit Concert for Youth Literacy. Tickets are $10 dollars and all proceeds from ticket sales go to support UWOLC’s education programs. This is an important cause and one all members of LOU and the greater Mississippi community can get behind since Mississippi was ranked among the top 10 least educated states in America in 2016 and among the worst in the nation for child literacy in 2014.

Education has long been a downfall for the state of Mississippi ranking among the least educated of states in 2016, with only 20.8% of adults achieving a bachelor’s degree as opposed to 41.5% in the #1 ranking state of Massachusetts. Even more shocking are Mississippi’s child literacy statistics. According to a recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 79% of Mississippi youth in the 4th grade were not proficient readers. This is not just an epidemic based in the Mississippi education system. National statistics found that 80% of 4th graders from low-income families were not proficient readers. In 6 of the top 10 lowest ranking states in child literacy, 85% of 4th graders from low-income housing failed to meet proficiency levels.

In the wake of the affordable housing crisis in Oxford these statistics take on a whole new meaning. Housing has an undeniable link to education and success in school. A recent study by How Housing Matters showed that affordable housing can support a child’s education by reducing the frequency of disruptive moves, helping families move to communities with higher quality schools, reducing overcrowding and other sources of housing-related stress, supporting holistic community development, including new or improved schools, tutoring, and strong out-of-school-time programs, reducing homelessness among families with children, and supporting parental spending on child enrichment activities.

According to The National Center of Education Statistics Lafayette County ranked among the top counties in Mississippi for literacy rates with only 12% lacking basic prose literary skills, 4% lower then the state average of 16%. Lafayette County showed 8% lower rates than the surrounding county Yalobusha, 4% lower than Pontotoc, and 9% lower than Panola and Marshall counties in regards to the percentage of citizens lacking basic reading and comprehension skills. With the closing of Riverside, many low-income residents are being forced to look outside of Oxford for affordable housing leaving not only a great community, but a school system that promotes higher literacy rates for their children than surrounding areas.

It is on the community as a whole to ensure that all children are getting the best education possible and the best chance at success especially those growing up in low-income housing. There are many ways to get involved in the Oxford and Lafayette communities. Scroll down to see how you can get involved in the lives of children in your community.

  1. LOU Reads

LOU Reads is a benefit concert held tomorrow April 5th at 8:00pm at Proud Larry’s on the Square. This concert is in support of youth literacy. Proud Larry’s is partnering up with the United Way of Oxford for the concert featuring covers of Lou Reed & Velvet Underground songs by artists like Kate Teague, Kit Thorne, Ben Ricketts, and Reid Haynie & Alex Thiel. Tickets are $10 All proceeds from the ticket sales go to support UWOLC’s education programs. Bring a book donation and enter for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Proud Larry’s.

For more information about this event visit Proud Larry’s website:

2. Leap Frog

A free tutoring program for elementary aged children in the Oxford and Lafayette school districts that places trained tutors with students in order to help improve their reading skills.

For more information on how to become a volunteer tutor go to:

or contact the Leap Frog director Teresa Adams at:

3. Coaching for Literacy

An organization raising money and affecting literacy levels in third grade children across the nation through sports. This philanthropic group hosts many events throughout the year in the Oxford community.

For more information on this program and how to get involved go to:

For more information related to this article go to:{9def2ebe-10ae-432c-9bd0-df91d2eba74a}/MISSISSIPPI%20FACT%20SHEET.PDF