Learn about the nationwide reading crisis impacting children. Then learn what our Northfield schools are doing about it. Join Northfield Superintendent Matt Hillmann for this FREE screening and discussion.

The public is invited to a free screening of the 2023 documentary The Right to Read at Northfield Public Library, Wednesday, Sept. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m., and at Buckham Memorial Library’s Great Hall in Faribault, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The 80-minute documentary exposes the nation’s literacy crisis and will be accompanied by discussion of literacy in our local schools, led by Superintendent Matt Hillmann in Northfield and Superintendent Jamie Bente in Faribault. 

The film examines the decades-long move away from teaching phonics and other reading fundamentals nationally, which has led to plunging test scores. While the pandemic may have compounded the problem, the literacy crisis did not start with the pandemic, reported the New York Times last spring. 

In The Right to Read, the literacy crisis is described as a civil rights issue. Children of Black, Hispanic and indigenous parents are displaying the biggest reading deficits. That said, the issue isn’t isolated to non-white populations. The film illustrates the literacy crisis through the stories of NAACP activist Kareem Weaver, a rookie first-grade teacher and Oakland, Calif., children struggling to read. “Illiteracy is a pipeline to prison,” says Kareem Weaver, “It’s also the pipeline to homelessness. It’s the pipeline to unemployment and depression.”

The film was directed by Emmy-Award winning filmmaker Jenny Mackensie, and produced by Artemis Rising Foundation and LeVar Burton Entertainment. LeVar Burton championed reading on the show Reading Rainbow in the 1980s. 

The screening is sponsored by Northfield Rotary, Northfield Public Library and Rice County Area United Way. Light refreshments will be served.