Some experts say the first few years in a child's education are some of the most critical.
"From kindergartener to third grade, you're learning how to read," Courtney Jonsson, the I READ Program Manager says. "By the time you're in fourth grade, you're reading to learn."
However a recent study shows Winnebago and Boone County fourth grader's are falling behind with 65 percent of them not proficient at reading.
But now, organizations like united way's I READ are stepping in earlier to improve education later on in life. Now, it says it's starting to see progress.
"I'm not shocked that what we're doing is making a positive impact because it's really good for the volunteer and the student," Jonsson says. "What kid doesn't need one more adult cheering them on and making sure they're successful in life?"
In just one school year, I READ measured improvements in all grade levels it works with at Harlem Schools.
Kindergarteners improved by 3 reading levels. First graders jumped as many as 9 reading levels. Second graders noted a 5 percentile point jump in reading levels. For third graders, it rose 2 percentile points
"I think what we're doing is all good and the students really seem to love it," Jonsson says. "They really look forward to being with their volunteer every year."
Rockford Public School District 205 says its starting to see more kids getting excited to read. But, it wants to figure out how it can make the program even more impactful. Right now, leaders there say it's all about having the child fully engaged from the start of those 20 to 30 of each session.
"They're not just being read to, but the students are previewing the text, they are spending most of the time with the tutor reading the text because the one reading and doing the work is the one learning," says Mellissa Douglas, RPS 205's Elementary Literacy Dean.
If you're interested in volunteering for I READ, click here for more information.