Read Across Georgia Mobilizes State’s Commitment To Early Literacy

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Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal

Partners and stakeholders from across the state working together to get all children in Georgia on a path to reading proficiently by the end of 3rd grade filled the North Wing of the Georgia Capitol Building March 2. They were there to help Gov. Nathan Deal, first lady Sandra Deal, and Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) Commissioner Amy Jacobs kick off Read Across Georgia Month, in support of the governor’s Grade-Level Reading Initiative.

“Reading at grade level by the end of third grade is a predictor of positive outcomes for children later in life,” said Jacobs. “DECAL supports Governor Deal’s grade-level reading goal by laying a solid foundation of pre-literacy skills in Georgia’s youngest children from birth to age 5 in child-care settings and in Georgia’s Pre-K Program.”

As a cabinet member of the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, an active participant of literacy initiatives throughout the state, and a former teacher, Sandra Deal has made early reading abilities a top priority. To promote statewide childhood literacy, she is reading to Pre-K students across Georgia throughout the month.

“It’s tremendously inspiring that our first lady has time to visit every county and actually get on the floor and play with children,” said Georgia Family Connection Partnership Executive Director Gaye Smith. “That demonstrates our state’s commitment to ensuring that every child is on a path to reading.”

The first lady leaned on the occasion to introduce to the state, TJ’s Discovery, a new picture and storybook, written by teachers at the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School, who worked alongside Sandra Deal and DECAL. Not only is it a tale about overcoming fears, it’s also meant to help parents and caregivers overcome their own reservations about reading to children.

According to Mrs. Deal, who launched Read Across Georgia month in 2012, every student in Georgia’s Pre-K Program will receive a gift copy of TJ’s Discovery.

“Our goal is to send a book home with each pre-K child at the end of this school term,” she said, “so they can practice at home and they will have already had it read to them at school.”

Gov. Deal has prioritized reading on grade level by third grade. “A firm literary foundation is essential for academic success, and the Read Across Georgia initiative helps to provide just that,” he said. “I’m confident that through our continued partnerships with state agencies, organizations, and classrooms across the state, we can fully achieve our goal of educating all children to their fullest potential.”

Here is just some work partners in this initiative are doing to close the literacy gap in Georgia:

  • The Ferst Foundation sees to it that young children get free books from birth through 5 years old.
  • Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites is escorting kids through library doors by allowing them to check out park passes as if they were books.
  • The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement is leading a reading mentor program and advancing strides to prevent summer learning loss.
  • A dedicated team from Georgia Public Libraries is promoting partnerships with The Braves. This season, you can earn a free ticket to a game by reading a book.
  • Quality Rated is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school‐age care and education programs.

Attendees also learned about other library programs, including 1,000 Books B4 Kindergarten, Every Child Ready to Read, and Prime Time Family Reading Time

“I’m encouraged about having the support of the governor and first lady, and so many members of our educational committee in the House and Senate on this,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods. “As a secondary social studies teacher, I was able to see, first-hand, kids who understood the content of the lesson, but their weakness was reading and reading comprehension. It’s especially important that students read well by third grade. Having so many key players focused on this topic will be essential to making lasting change for Georgia.”

March 2 was also Dr. Seuss’s birthday (he would have been 111). Throughout the nation, Seuss-themed events promote the joy of reading via the Read Across America program. Celebrate Read Across Georgia Month by making a promise to get all kids in Georgia on a path to reading proficiency by 2020.

  • Talk, read, sing and play with kids—especially babies—all the time.
  • Share information with your community about the importance of reading to kids.
  • Support year-round access to learning and nutritional meals for all kids
  • Foster a school and classroom climate where all kids feel safe, secure, connected, supported and ready to learn.
  • Create an expectation that your family will read for at least 15 minutes every day.
  • Support access to training and tools for all teachers.

Lynn Peisner
Get Georgia Reading Campaign Communications Associate
404-527-7394 (x104)

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director
404-527-7394 (x113)

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