CCCPC grant will fund early childhood literacy efforts

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, September 27, 2023

In May 2023, the Covington County Children’s Policy Council (CCCPC) applied and was recently awarded a Grade-Level Reading Grant which was offered under the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

The Grade Level Reading Grant funds, totally $20,000, will only be passing through the CCCPC, as the entirety of grant funds will be equally divided among all three school systems in Covington County.

Susan Short, CCCPC Executive Director, and Judge Trippy McGuire, said they are thrilled to assist the school systems with strategies that have the potential to increase early literacy. One of the strategies will be that each school age child in kindergarten and first grade will receive a free book as well as allowing each system to design their strategies to help increase childhood literacy.

Covington County Schools’ elementary schools and Andalusia Elementary School will focus on a strategy called “Let’s Build Home Libraries” to fill the need for children to have books readily available at home. Reading is fundamental to learning and children begin this process at home. Schools look to provide each child in grades Pre-K through first grades two new books to take home that are appropriate for their age. The two selections will be represented by a fiction and a nonfiction title. CCCPC officials said they are excited about these books as a local theater production group will bring them to life in a live performance in March 2024.

“We believe the children will treasure these books and they will enjoy reading with their parents and siblings,” officials said.

The two new books for each student will come with an attached list of other books that will help to build their at-home libraries.

Opp Elementary School will establish a firm literacy foundation so that every student becomes a successful reader.

“We know the importance of starting early and receiving support from home. OES will use the money from this grant to teach parents of preschool and kindergarten children how best to support their children in early literacy skills during a Family Literacy Night,” OES officials said.

The OES program will also include Take-Home Reading Kits that provide students and families the materials they need to make learning fun.

According to national data, 60 percent of kindergarteners in neighborhoods where children did poorly in school did not own a single book. Some situations have nothing to do with a child’s socioeconomic background, but rather an environment whereby reading to children at home during those early critical years is not deemed important.

The American Pediatrics Association reports that reading when young, even infants being read to by their parents, increases academic success in the future.