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Community Meeting to Jump-start new Early Childhood Literacy Program

The Community Foundation for Oceana County will be hosting the first Strategic Doing Meeting for the new Read Early, Read Often program on February 15 from 3:30-5pm. The meeting will be at the Oceana ESD building at 844 Griswold in Hart. Everyone is welcome to be a part of the kick-off of the program and participate in the first discussion of what this initiative will look like in the county.

Read Early, Read Often is geared towards encouraging parents to read to their children starting at birth. Reading early and often teaches children to listen and focus, introduces new words, builds imagination and celebrates our world, improves school readiness and future success in school and life. Given data showing that 67% of Oceana 3rd graders are not proficient in English Language Arts, community partners began looking for ways to bolster early literacy. The initiative is led by the Community Foundation for Oceana County, and coordinated by Hannah Juhl, an AmeriCorps VISTA member hosted by the Foundation.

The first five years are the most formative in the brain development of a child. “Babies and toddlers who are read to often will have heard as many as thirty million more words than children who aren’t read to before Preschool,” said Juhl. “That gap astonished me. So in a more rural community like ours, where there are more poverty barriers to overcome, our four year olds from poor families are often a year behind in their development educationally.”

“This program will need to help of many volunteers to help spread the word, distribute books and advocate for this campaign. We are hoping for a big turn-out at our first meeting,” said Juhl. Interested persons can also contact Juhl at for more information.