Ready To Read

Literacy is a global issue. In Polk County where Florida Children’s Museum is located, more than 50% of kindergartners are not on level to start reading. Learn about what the Museum is doing to help every student get ready to read.


A child must have a strong foundation of language before they can start to read. Language is a result of knowledge from life experiences. Every time you go to a park and talk about squirrels, take a trip to the zoo, or visit the children’s museum, children are finding new language and making them more ready to read. Here’s an example. A child learning how to read is asked to guess a word based on clues from the picture. The picture is a girl with her hair in a bun wearing a tutu and the word being asked to guess is “ballet”. The child has never seen a tutu or heard of ballet. The child has no life experience to guess the word. The child becomes frustrated and feels defeated. Meanwhile, another child in the group is taking a dance class and says “DANCER!” or maybe even “BALLET”. The child with the life experience is praised for the right answer and the first child still has no context for the image or the task. How would that make you feel? Being ready to read is a global conversation. The International Literacy Association published a document in 2017 that said knowledge building is the base of literacy and children do better by building life experiences than they do academic rigor during the early years of school.

The Work

Florida Children’s Museum is the hub of a new Early Learning Alliance that is getting kids across Central Florida #ReadytoRead. Initiatives both inside and outside of the Museum are working on intentional language gains with a special focus on reaching kids in vulnerable situations. Another key element is to amplify the work being done in neighboring communities. This is not a Polk County problem, this is a global problem. What works here may not work somewhere else. We must be willing to share outcomes (both good and bad) to continue working towards progress.

The Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children's Resource Center

The Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children’s Resource Center is a storefront for the United Way of Central Florida’s Success by 6 initiative. The Children’s Resource Center rents space from Florida Children’s Museum so families coming to receive social services and access to free developmentally appropriate playgroups can also gain access to the Museum. The Museum’s educators teach a weekly class on-site as part of their free programming and participate in community-wide outreach events.

Institute of Museum and Library Service

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded Florida Children’s Museum a 3 year grant to start the Early Learning Alliance. IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Early Learning Coalition of Polk County

The Early Learning Coalition of Polk County partners with Florida Children’s Museum to provide professional development opportunities for early childhood educators which focus on language & literacy, developmentally appropriate practice, teacher/child interactions, math, science & more! In addition, the Coalition supports the Museum’s mission by referring families from the community to participate in their daily programming/exhibits & summer camp opportunities.

Polk County Public Schools

Polk County Schools has partnered with Florida Children’s Museum in various ways since the mid-1990s. Currently, the Museum is working directly with Jesse Keen Elementary. FCM is an active member of the school’s advisory board, provides attendance incentives, and supports the school’s overall academic success.

Glazer Children's Museum

GCM’s work as a children’s museum aligns closely with the goals of the FCM’s Early Learning Alliance through world-class hands-on exhibits and robust educational programs including Learn and Play Tampa Bay.

Great Explorations Children’s Museum

Great Explorations V Children’s Museum is the children’s museum in St. Petersburgh, Florida. Great Explorations and Florida Children’s Museum have a reciprocal membership program to promote extended exploration at each other’s sites which promotes greater language development.