Amarillo increases access to early literacy to enhance children’s future success

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Early literacy plays a vital role in a child’s future success.

Chandra Perkins executive director of Storybridge said literacy is important within the first three years of a child’s life because by the time a child is three, their brain is already 85 percent developed.

She said children learn with stories, pictures and repetition and says many important concepts are embedded into literacy, which is how they learn.

The Amarillo Public Library also says parents are the ones who teach their children.

“We know that parents are the first teachers, and we want to encourage them to talk, sing and play with their babies, read them books, and talk with them while they’re cooking dinner or doing homework or housework, so we know that talking is teaching,” said Melody Boren, youth services coordinator, Amarillo Public Library.

She says the library is here for everyone and they want to help make the future generations of Amarillo as successful as possible.

“We know that early literacy is important for future success and to help babies get set up for the most successful lives that they can have, we offer Family Place Library, and we have books for parents, and we have books for babies but of course we have a lot of books for babies anyways,” said Boren.

Storybridge said those who do not have access to books, may not be introduced to important concepts before starting school.

“It’s the kids who have access to a home library of a really rich age-appropriate literacy that come to school having had all of that information downloaded onto their brain in the very most fertile time period for them,” said Perkins.

They have recently started the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library where kids under the age of five in Potter and Randall counties can receive an age-appropriate free book each month.

“We’re actually signing kids up at day one in the hospital, those moms are signing up ]from their hospital bed to get these free books started as early as possible,” said Perkins.

Another program they offer is Little Free Libraries where sponsors can provide a free library stocked with books in Amarillo neighborhoods.

“We actually now have I think 19 little free libraries up in town in areas we feel like we are making a difference as far as equity in access,” said Perkins.

Storybridge will also be restarting their free book fairs in October at high need title one elementary schools, where every book is free.

“We really need to get our kids reading and learning loving because if a child is not on reading level by the third grade there will be further ramifications down the line, kids who can’t read on level by third grade have a higher chance, it’s not a certainty, but there is a chance that they won’t finish high school and that certainty limits their opportunities,” said Boren.