KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – For part of their day, 3-year old Kasey and 6 year old Sammy step out of the real world and into a world of fantasy.

“My books are always fun to read,” said Kasey Whalen.

Sometimes big brother Sammy dedicates a few minutes of his time to read to his littler sister. As their imaginations grow, the library in the Whalen household expands right along with it.

“There’s no such thing as having too many books,” said Sara Whalen, Sammy and Kasey’s mother.

Whalen is also a school teacher ad knows how important it is to read to children. But a new national report by the non-profit organization “Read Aloud 15 Minutes” says almost 60 percent of parents are not taking the time to read to their kids every day. And less than 15 percent of parents surveyed started reading to their children at birth.

The United Way of Wyoming Valley puts on a variety of programs that promote early literacy and kindergarten readiness. Leaders here say poor literacy rates in this region is an epidemic.    They say about a third of elementary schools in the Wyoming Valley are seeing children not reading at grade level by the end of third grade.

“Reading together from birth helps promote increased vocabulary, increased literacy skills, increased listening skills,” said Jennifer Deemer with The United Way.

While Whalen admits, reading to her children as babies did not happen every day, the activity is now a regular part of bed time. Life can be pretty hectic, but reading advocates stress 15 minutes is all you need.

“I think every one has books in their house. They just don’t make the time and they let it get away from them,” said Whalen.