New coalition could impact children’s education

GREENVILLE, N..C (WNCT) – Half of children are entering kindergarten without the skills needed to succeed. That’s why a new coalition is forming in Eastern North Carolina.

Books From Birth is a new early literacy coalition created in Pitt County, focusing on improving childhood literacy.

“And if we do more of that, then all of our problems, all of our opportunities, we move the needle on every single one of them,” said Councilman Rick Smiley.

On Monday, city, county, and state elected officials came together to support the new coalition. It targets the growing rates of illiteracy.

In Pitt County, graduation rates and reading and math proficiency are lower compared to the rest of North Carolina. Remediation costs the school system over $3 million a year.

Jennifer Christensen, the early literacy coordinator, decided it’s time for a change.

“What does our community need to make sure that every baby and every parent understands the information and how important it is for babies to have early and enjoyable experiences with book and words from day one,” asked Jennifer Christensen.

Books From Birth is taking steps to improve literacy from the time a child is born.

“We’ve registered over 500 children. And what this does is it provides a book a month for every baby from birth until age five in the mail, and right now it’s free,” added Christensen.

“By reading to kids from birth on, you’re setting them up for success in school, but you’re also setting them up for success in life,” explained Greg Needham, Director of Libraries at Sheppard Memorial Library.

90-percent of critical brain development happens in the first five years of life, which is why it’s so important for young children to be exposed to books.

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