Our Littlest Learners

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At seven months, Pace is sitting up on her own and holding age-appropriate books like this cloth one

My sweet niece Pace is a very lucky girl because she lives in a house full of books. At seven months, she’s sitting up on her own and holding age-appropriate books like the cloth one in the picture. While there aren’t words on the pages, she is seeing bright colors and shapes that are helping to spark her brain’s development. Pace’s parents talk with her all the time and are great examples of how it is never too early to start talking and reading with your baby. As a proud aunt who works in the education field, I’m even more excited to see Pace acquiring the early literacy skills that will help her become a strong reader and productive citizen—something we want for every child in Georgia.

A child’s brain develops most rapidly in the first five years of life, and books are an essential tool in enhancing that development. Even though infants can’t speak or read, introducing them to words and books strengthens their ability to understand, communicate, and learn. From the moment a baby is born, it is critical for caregivers to infuse language and positive interactions with a “serve-and-return” approach.  

Access is one of the core pillars of the GetGeorgiaReading—Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which launches later this summer and aims to improve reading proficiency among Georgia’s children. This is because we know that access to high-quality education opportunities and books can help children succeed. Here’s the good news: There are already organizations in Georgia standing ready to offer families access to books that help young children develop pre-literacy skills.

Reach Out and Read partners with pediatricians by giving a new book at every well-visit checkup along with advice and materials in an effort to engage parents and promote early literacy skills while the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy delivers books monthly to children’s homes. In Atlanta, the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club will provide age-appropriate books to children ages birth to 8 at events throughout the summer, encouraging families to instill literacy as a core value in their home. Right now the Reading Club organizers are looking for partner organizations and will soon ask children to participate in a fun-filled summer of reading activities. The kickoff will be June 7 at the Children’s Museum. I hope you will join me and Pace there.

For more information about GetGeorgiaReading—Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, contact Campaign Director Arianne Weldon at aweldon@atlantacivicsite.org.