The Decatur Daily Democrat

Text service aims to improve children’s literacy


The more parents and caregivers talk and listen to young children, the easier it is for children to learn to read and write when they start kindergart­en. This is because simple activities such as singing and playing every day help kids develop the cognitive and language skills they need to do well in school and beyond. Unfortunat­ely, not all parents have time to develop learning activities for their little ones or even to visit the library regularly, creating a school readiness gap that impacts children from under-resourced families disproport­ionately. TALK, a text messaging service, aims to change this, helping children learn through simple, everyday interactio­ns.

Text and Learn for Kindergart­en sends two text messages each week suggesting activities that parents and caregivers can easily incorporat­e into daily routines with their children. The service also notifies parents of free activities and services at the library. TALK is available to parents and caregivers with children ages 5 and under, and will officially launch at the Adams Public Library Services at the Decatur and Geneva locations in February.

“TALK is a great resource for all parents of pre-K children. We are excited to provide parents with ideas that are quick and easy to incorporat­e to help their children be ready for school,” said ALPS Children’s Librarian, Priscilla Webber.

The service is funded in part by a National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant allows TALK, originally created by libraries in Washtenaw County, Michigan, to be used by all public libraries in Michigan and Indiana to support early learning in their communitie­s.

TALK is derived from the research-based program Every Child Ready to Read, which

promotes five practices to build essential pre-reading skills: reading, singing, talking, writing and playing. Each message begins with one of the five practices and details an activity parents can use to help their child develop early literacy skills. But content goes beyond literacy and helps parents build other important skills such as pre-math and social emotional skills. While the service is available and valuable to every family, the goal is to reach parents who may not otherwise have the time or the ability to attend library programs. It is available in English and Spanish.

The Adams Public Library System is a partner library that is happy to help get the word out to families in our area. The technology platform to distribute the messages was developed by the Midwest Collaborat­ive for Library Services. HighScope Center for Early Education Research and Evaluation helped ensure messages were aligned to a child’s developmen­t and will be conducting an evaluation of the project. To sign up for the service, text TALK to 74457 or visit www.texttolear­ For more informatio­n on TALK, contact Webber at or by phone at 260-724-2605.

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