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Jack Black says “Turn on the subtitles” to help kids be better readers

Literacy movement to help reading proficiency expands to US

Turn on the subtitles to help kids be better readers

We Have A Literacy Problem

  • U.S. students’ reading scores plummeted to the lowest levels in 34 years
  • Less than 40% of students in public and non-public schools read at or above their grade level 
  • Two-thirds of students who do not have proficient reading skills by the end of fourth grade end up in jail or on welfare
  • Low literacy costs the U.S. an estimated $225 billion in lost workforce productivity, crime, and lost tax revenue due to unemployment 

The “Know”-Brainer Solution… Turn on the Subtitles

Studies show that turning on the subtitles when children watch TV can dramatically improve their literacy — doubling their chances of becoming proficient readers. The best part… subtitles are completely free and proven to improve vocabulary, boost comprehension skills and increase reading fluency.

“This 10-second action can double the chance of your child becoming good at reading!” 
— Jack Black, Celebrity Ambassador

Why It’s a “Know”-Brainer

  • In the U.S., 61% of children in low socioeconomic areas are growing up in homes without books. 
  • However, 96% of households own at least one TV — making turning on the subtitles an equitable and actionable way to overcome the literacy crisis. 

“We know that children watch an average 3 to 4 hours of TV a day and by simply turning on subtitles in the ‘same’ language, we can help them become better readers,” said Dr. Brij Kothari, founder of and, and leader of the Same Language Subtitling movement on mainstream TV for mass literacy in India. “Research shows that children read captions when they’re available and achieve significantly better literacy outcomes — especially for those struggling with reading. It’s so significant that India just passed a law that requires 50% of television content to have subtitles on by 2025.”

READ MORE: Squiggles to words: The emergent writer

Think about it…. by just turning on the subtitles it’s equivalent to reading the same number of words that are in all of the Harry Potter books, all of the Earthsea Books, all of His Dark Materials, all of the Narnia saga and all of The Lord of the Rings — in a year! What’s more, a single kid's movie can have up to 20,000 words — that’s about the same as the average chapter book for 5- to 10-year-olds.

"We are absolutely delighted that Jack Black, actor, comedian, musician and all-round awesome guy, is helping Turn On The Subtitles spread their simple literacy message to all,” said Leib Lurie, literacy champion and founder of Kids ReadNow. “Watch and share the short video he created for the campaign at"

Turn on the Subtitles is a global movement made up of like-minded education leaders, entrepreneurs, celebrities and parents who have come together to share one simple message: Turn on the Subtitles!

“So far we’ve helped more than 400 million children read — and we are just getting started,” said Henry Warren, Co-Founder of Turn on the Subtitles. “As a father to young kids, I have seen the impact of this simple act and want to get the word out that with just one click we can help billions of children learn to read.

Learn more about Turn on the Subtitles and get simple ‘how to’ instructions to turn on the subtitles for all streaming services and main devices here.

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