Early Literacy Program Expands to Contra Costa County

by Bay City News

An early literacy program aimed to close the achievement gap for low-income students is expanding in Contra Costa County. Starting in January, Raising a Reader San Francisco and Alameda Counties will provide local kindergarten classes and childcare programs with a rotating selection of thousands of books in an effort to boost literacy among low-income children.
Molly Wertz, Raising a Reader San Francisco and Alameda Counties executive director, said reading aloud to young children readies children for success in school, yet research shows that a whopping 60 percent of low-income families have no children's books at home. "Decades of research show that sharing books at home fosters early brain development and bolsters children's school readiness kills, excitement about reading, and later success in school," Wertz said. "The simple act of parents reading aloud to their children can help level the playing field." As part of the Raising a Reader program, staff in kindergarten classrooms and childcare centers teach parents about the importance of reading daily to their children, Wertz said.

This same model will be used throughout Contra Costa County thanks to a $225,000 investment from First 5 Contra Costa and other local donors. Though the program has already been introduced in Contra Costa County, the new funding will benefit more families and boost training and support to promote at-home reading with limited-income parents, regardless of their own literacy level or home language.


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