Polk Family Connection and Ferst Readers of Polk County participated in the Jumpstart Read for the Record global reading campaign with over 1,000 Polk County students, teachers and volunteers participating.

In Read for the Record’s 16th year of early literacy awareness, over 22 million readers have participated worldwide.

Read for the Record hosts events to read the same book on the same day each year to increase awareness about the critical importance of early literacy and to make high-quality books accessible for all children. These are two main focuses of Polk Family Connection and Ferst Readers of Polk County, so the campaign was a perfect fit for both; they provided copies of the 2021 book “Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon” to each participating school, as well as activities to support the story.

Rhonda Heuer, Executive Director of Polk Family Connection expressed her appreciation to the participating partners including Polk School District and local preschools, Covenant Preschool and Kindergarten, Rockmart First United Methodist Church preschool and Cedartown First United Methodist Church preschool.

“We were so excited that each partner was so enthusiastic and willing to join us in this campaign. Ferst Readers CAT members and retired teachers, Marian Williams and Betty Nelson spearheaded the book distribution and were thrilled to be able to read to students at Covenant Preschool and Kindergarten,” Heuer said.

“Our focused strategy is that our children are reading at grade level by third grade. Serving on and partnering with Ferst Readers gives me another opportunity to promote the critical need for exposure to reading from birth. I enjoyed helping in another community event to champion those goals.”

Research shows that children with access to high quality early education programs enter kindergarten better prepared to succeed and provide the greatest “return on investment” ever documented as well as an increased high school graduation rate and therefore higher earned salaries.

The presence of books in the home has a greater influence on a child’s level of education than does the parents income, nationality, or level of education. A 20-year study shows how investing in books can make a big difference.

Educators have long believed that the top predictor of whether a child attained a high level of education was highly-educated parents. A 20-year international study, however, has revealed an even bigger predictor of a child’s academic success: the presence of books in the home.

Regardless of nationality, level of education, or their parents economic status, children who grew up with books in their homes reached a higher level of education than those who did not, according to the study, Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success: Books and Schooling in 27 Nations published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. Having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact on a child’s ascent to a higher level of education, the study found. The more books in the house, the greater the benefit, which emphasizes the main goal of Ferst Readers, who mails a book a month to all registered children from birth to age 5.

Ferst Readers mission is “strengthening communities by providing quality books and literacy resources for children and their families to use at home during the earliest stages of development.”

Ferst Readers wants every child to have the best start in life — and nothing helps a baby’s brain develop more than exposure to rich language and loving interactions. The key is having books in the home and being read to right from birth. For more information, go to www.ferstreaders.org

Polk Family Connection brings together local- and state-level partners working toward measurably better outcomes for our children, families, and community.

For more information about Polk Family Connection early literacy focus, monthly meetings, or to join their Get Polk Reading team, contact Rhonda Heuer at polkcouncil@yahoo.com or visit its Facebook page at facebook.com/PolkFamilyConnection.

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