Are Readers Living Longer, Healthier Lives?

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DPH Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald reads to pre-k students at The Bridge Learning Center in Carrollton.

I got to spend some time today with Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Georgia Dept. of Public Health, when she read to the students at The Bridge Learning Center in Carrollton to participate in Georgia Pre-K Week.

Georgia’s youngest children are at the center of attention across the state this week to celebrate the critical work they’re doing to prepare for school success. Pre-K Week is hosted by Voices for Georgia’s Children and its Pre-K Week partners. Commissioner Fitzgerald is one of 150 officials who visited some of the 3,800 Georgia pre-k classrooms in all 159 counties.

I was curious why someone who oversees Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Vital Records and the State Public Health Laboratory, would spend time reading to a group of 3- and 4-year-olds on a Friday morning.

I already knew that a child’s ability to read by the end of third grade is the best predictor of whether or not he or she will graduate from high school. What I didn’t know is that of all the things we look at that affect health, besides genetics, education is probably the most important. Commissioner Fitzgerald shows why learning to read is literally a matter of life and death. Check out this video:

This week our state, community and business leaders read to our kids. Now we need to act by reading to our kids and engaging them in conversations. Let’s get Georgia reading.

Commissioner Fitzgerald read two books to the children at The Bridge:

Voices for Georgia’s Children’s partners on Georgia Pre-K Week:

  • Black Child Development Institute Atlanta,
  • Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy,
  • Georgia Association for Young Children,
  • Georgia Child Care Association,
  • Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students,
  • Georgia Family Connection Partnership,
  • Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education,
  • Georgia Public Library Service,
  • JumpStart,
  • Multiple Junior League Chapters,
  • Quality Care for Children,
  • United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta and YMCA.