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Why We Do What We Do

STARS is dedicated to improving the early literacy landscape for children. 

These are key facts about early literacy:

  • Language and literacy skills begin developing at birth and are fostered by parents and caregivers.

  • Nationally only 36.9% of babies are read to daily by their parents. Families in households with low incomes are 16.8% less likely to read daily to infants than households above low income.

    • Data from THE STATE OF BABIES YEARBOOK:2022, published by ZERO TO THREE, Think Babies

  • Enriched home learning environments and parent involvement are critical for children from low-income families to succeed in school.

  • Children who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers. 

  • Research supports the national reading proficiency problem: 82% of fourth graders from low-income families and 84% of students who are from low-income families and attend high poverty schools fail to reach reading proficiency. 

  • Research supports the price of failing to close the reading gap for children from low-income families is too steep in economic, social and human terms for this country to continue to pay.

  • Post-pandemic math and reading test score results show greater divergence between students of low and high income levels. “Students at the bottom are dropping faster”. 


These are key facts about Schenectady’s early literacy profile:

  • Approximately 9,031 children under age 5 live in Schenectady County, and approximately 6,000 of those children lack consistent regulated childcare.

  • Across Schenectady County approximately 1,856 children under age 5 live in poverty with the greatest concentration residing in Schenectady City (1,300). According to data for Schenectady County, 70% of all County children under age five who live in poverty, reside in the City of Schenectady.

  • 77% of Schenectady City School District third grade students tested in the ‘21-’22 school year were not reading at proficiency.

  • According to survey data taken from recipients of STARS books, 98% of respondents agree they are reading more to their children since gaining access to STARS books.


There is a criticality to early literacy in the long-term economic health of Schenectady. It will take the entire village to solve the early literacy problem and STARS is working to bring the stakeholders together to find solutions.

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