Mayor Stanton reads ‘Up Up Up’ in celebration of RIF 50th anniversary

For 50 years, Reading Is Fundamental, or RIF, has advocated for the importance of early literacy by putting books in the hands of young children across the country and imparting the wisdom of Dr. Seuss, who wrote: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton partnered with Southwest Human Development to celebrate RIF’s 50th anniversary. In honor of RIF’s extraordinary milestone, Mayor Stanton read “Up Up Up” and “Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss” to a group of children at Southwest Human Development. Those who were unable to attend in-person tuned in on Facebook Live to enjoy the reading.

RIF has partnered with Southwest Human Development in Maricopa County for more than 30 years. Through this collaboration, Southwest Human Development has been able to provide early language and literacy programs such as Raising A Reader and Reach Out and Read that support thousands of parents and caregivers in the development of their young children.

Of the 16 million children living in poverty in the U.S., two-thirds don’t have a book to call their own. Without books, these children are falling behind in school, sometimes even dropping out. It’s an endless cycle that impacts the future of our children and our society. That’s where early literacy programs step in to make an impact.

Programs like the Raising A Reader program are designed to educate parents about the importance of early literacy skills and how they can build these skills with their young children to help them enter school ready to learn. Through Raising A Reader parents attend eight weekly early literacy workshops, and after each, they take home a bag of books to share with their children. Each week, the bag is exchanged for a new set of books. Parents who complete the program receive five high-quality children’s books to keep.

“Reading gives you a free ticket to see the world,” said Stanton. “It is the backbone of all learning and we are lucky to have organizations like Southwest Human Development and Reading Is Fundamental to ensure our children have access to books.”

To learn more about Southwest Human Development’s early literacy programs, please visit