Local groups unite to promote literacy in children



FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – One way to promote literacy early in children is to tell stories, which is what many families enjoy doing around the holidays.

About 100 families gathered Dec. 5 to do just that as part of ‘Tis the Season for Stories, an event aimed at keying children’s interest in reading and helping parents learn how to make it part of everyday life.

The holiday event was hosted at Georgia Highlands Medical Services, 475 Tribble Gap Road. Co-sponsors were the Forsyth County Public Library, Literacy Forsyth and Forsyth County Schools.

Children of all ages and their caregivers heard holiday stories by Mrs. Claus, sang songs in English and Spanish, saw puppet shows and participated in holiday crafts.

Each family received free books to take home, donated by local women’s group Altrusa and Barnes & Noble.

Forsyth County Schools Title 1 Director Amy Chang said this event will help students who haven’t entered the school district yet.

“We have a growing need for building those early childhood skills at home with their first teacher, which are their parents,” Chang said. “We want to promote that throughout the community and make a grand awareness of literacy and early learning within our schools for future students.”

Stephen Kight, assistant director of public services at Forsyth County Public Library, said this was a pilot program and hopes to do more in the future.

“Georgia Highlands serves people with a need,” Kight said. “We wanted to reach out and this was a great way. There may be people here who don’t know about what the library, school system or Literacy Forsyth are able to offer. This brings people together. The earlier we can get families reading together, the better.”

For the people in the school system and those who go to the library already, they’re aware of the need of literacy in children.

“They might not be aware when coming to pediatrician appointments that literacy starts in the womb,” Chang said. “We wanted to teach parents no matter how young your child is, even if they were just born, you can begin the skills necessary to be successful in school.”

Pamela Burlingame, executive director of Literacy Forsyth, said they will be focusing on family literacy this year and focusing on birth through the pre-K age group, along with adult education.

The brain learns certain things including language at an early age,

and youngsters are often left out of

programing in the community, she said.

“Children of more literate and educated parents hear an average of 32 million more words from ages 0 to 5,” Burlingame said. “What generally happens is a limited vocabulary or literacy of a parent has an immediate impact on a child because they won’t get it at the early age which is when it’s important to start literacy.”

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