“The future of Georgia industry, and indeed the state’s economy, depends on the ability of our
rising generation to meet the strong challenges of a technology based economy, and this
(Ferst Foundation) program provides a solid first-step to achieving that goal.”
Sherian Wilburn, Executive Director, Georgia Industry Association


  • “High School non-completion in Georgia costs the state $18 billion per year in foregone income.  Add the loss of state output, and this figure increases to $24.5 billion.”  - “The Economic Impact of High School Non-Completion in Georgia,” Georgia Southern University, August 2003

  • A 2005 Georgia Tech study recently concluded that along with high costs, the lack of qualified personnel was the chief barrier to innovation and competitiveness.

One-half of America's "Below-Basic" level readers failed to complete high school and
one-third of readers at "Basic" level dropped out of high school.
U.S. Dept of Education, National Center for Education Statistics


Watson-Brown Foundation, McDuffie County, GA


Educators have identified preschool reading and parent involvement as among the most important steps toward a child's success in school.  A growing body of reseach now supports the experience of teachers.  It suggests that from birth on the learning environment has a tremondous impact on the short and long-term reading capability of the child.  According to Karoly et all (1998), children develop much of their capacity to learn in the first three years of life, when their brains grow to 90% of their eventual adult weight.  Start Early, Finish Strong, a Department of Education publication, emphasizes the importance of a child's interaction with his/her environemtn rather than intelligence as a key factor in determing the ease wtih which a child will learn to read.  The publication cites a National Research Council report that states, "Just as a child develops language skills long before being able to speak, the child also develops literacy skills long before being able to read."

Just what are these literacy skills? Letter names and shapes, associating sounds with letters, familiarity with books, associating reading with love and fun are all key areas of development. Dr. Perri Klass, Medical Director of Reach Out and Read, states, “With confidence, I tell parents to read to their children, secure in the knowledge that it will help their language development, help them be ready to read when the time comes, and help parents and children spend loving moments together.”

Importance of Reading Aloud: Executive Summary of Scientific Data and Published Articles

There is overwhelming consensus among researchers that reading aloud to children (especially from birth through age five) plays a key role in a child’s emerging literacy and preparation for success in school.

In addition to peer-reviewed research, there are dozens of articles published in scientific, medical, and education-related texts and journals that support the benefits of reading aloud to children.

Reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for
building knowledge required for eventual success in reading.

National Academy of Education’s Commission on Reading (1985)

Children’s comprehensive, conceptual, and behavioral patterns are primarily shaped between the ages of birth to five years. It is especially important for families and child caregivers to read to children early and often.
Essa, E. Introduction to Early Childhood Education (2nd ed.). Albany, NY: Delmar.

While a variety of experiences contribute to the preschool child’s emerging literacy, there is overwhelming consensus among researchers that exposure to children’s books is particularly important.
Anderson, AB, Stokes, SJ. Social and institutional influences and the development and pre-active of literacy. In: Goleman H, Oberg A, Smith F, eds. Awakening to Literacy. Exeter, NH: Heinemann: 1984:23.
Goldfield, BA, Snow C. Reading Books with children: the mechanics of parental influence on children’s reading achievement. In: Flood J, ed. Promoting Reading Comprehension. Newark, Del: International Reading Association; 1984.
Hiebert, EH. Issues related to home influences on young children’s print-related development. In: Yaden DB, Templeton S, eds. Metalinguistic Awareness and Beginning Literacy. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational Books; 1986.
Durkin D. Children who read early: Two longitudinal studies. New York, NY: Teachers College Press; 1966.

By reading to infants, parents can help their children develop an understanding about print at an early age as infants learn to make connections between words and meaning. By engaging children at an early age in reading and allowing children to observe those around them in reading activities, parents can help foster a lifelong passion for reading that leads to benefits in all areas of development as children grow older.
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (1997). Helping Children Learn About Reading. (Online). Available: http://npin.org/library/texts/home/learnabo.html [1997, September 25].

For infants and toddlers as well as preschool children, books provide a context for language and cognitive develop-ments related to literacy acquisition and school success. Rhythmic speaking and holding enhance infant attention. Brown, DR, Ottinger CD. The Perceptual Basis of Developing Reading Skill: Final Report. Washington DC: Office of Education, Bureau of Research; 1970. US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare publication RMQ66004.

Reading to children is one of the best ways to promote positive attitudes toward reading and to give children
the sounds and words of literacy and reading. Beginning at birth, all children should be read to with
regularity and enthusiasm.
Southern Early Childhood Association (2002) Early Literacy and Beginning to Read: A Position Statement of the Southern Early Childhood Association. Southern Early Childhood Association: Dimensions of Early Childhood, 30(4), 28-31.

Reading aloud to young children helps to develop vocabulary, phonological awareness, oral language
skills, fluency, and a positive attitude toward learning
Barrentine, S.J. Engaging with reading through interactive read-alouds. The Reading Teacher, 50(1), 36-43.

Reading aloud to children is one of the most effective and inexpensive activities parents, caregivers
and educators can do to promote literacy. Children who are introduced to books early and read to
on a regular basis do better in school.
Herb, S. (1997) Building Blocks for literacy: What current research shows. School Library Journal, 43(7), 23.

In a study conducted of kindergartners, those who were read to at least three times a week as
they entered kindergarten were almost twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent of literacy
tests than children who were read to less than three times a week.

National Institute for Literacy (2006). The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. Available online. http://www.nifl.gov/nifl/facts/ECLS.html.

Children who are read to frequently are nearly twice as likely as other children to show three or
more skills associated with emerging literacy.
Nord, C.W., Lennon, J., Liu, B., Chandler, K. (1999). Home Literacy Activities: Signs of Children’s Emerging Literacy: 1993 and 1999. (From the National Center for Family Literacy, 2005.)

Children in poor families are less likely to be read to daily. A U.S. Department of Education Survey found that 46 percent of children in families in poverty were read to every day, compared with 61 percent of children in families living above the poverty line.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Center for Education Statistics (1996). National Household Education Study, 1995. Washington DC: Author.

Children from low income families enter school at a disadvantage. The gap between children from
low- and high-income families on reading comprehension scores is more than 40 points.
National Center for Education Statistics (1993) The Condition of Education. Washington DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

Some experts believe that for America’s poorest children, the biggest obstacle to literacy is the
scarcity of books and appropriate reading material.

Needlman R, Fried L, Morley D, Traylor S, Zuckerman B. Clinic-Based Intervention to Promote Literacy. American Medical Association American Journal of Diseases of Children; 145(881) 1991.

A team of researchers concluded that nearly two-thirds of the low income families they studied owned no books for their children. As a result, direct access to books is extremely limited for these children, a fact that significantly impacts their educational growth and development as well as their sense of creativity and imagination.
McQuillan, Jeff. The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions. 1998.

The problems continue as people with low literacy levels enter adulthood. Among adults at the lowest level of literacy proficiency, 43% live in poverty. Among adults with strong literacy skills, only 4% live in poverty.
The State of Literacy In America, 1998.

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