Friday, February 25, 2005

Idaho reading initiative launched

Pesky Center and congressman combine efforts

Express Staff Writer

Every child born in Idaho in 2005 will receive booties, an infant cap and the Lee Pesky Center's publication "Every Child Ready to Read: Literacy Tips for Parents.

The Pesky Center, a non-profit organization specializing in helping individuals with learning disabilities, announced Tuesday, Feb. 22, the launch of a historic statewide initiative—Literacy Matters—to improve early childhood literacy throughout Idaho.

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, along with the federal government showed its support of Literacy Matters by awarding a $185,000 congressional appropriation to fund statewide distribution of the publication in English and Spanish, and to study its impact in the years between the crib and the classroom.

"There is a strong correlation between the early development of a child and the level of success that child experiences later in life," Simpson said. "By putting this vital tool into the hands of every Idaho parent with a newborn we are vastly improving the probability of success for our children."

The Pesky Center is currently developing a strategy to distribute the book to more than 20,000 Idaho newborns by the fall of this year, and to track their progress over the next several years.

"It is our hope that the Literacy Matters Initiative continues to grow not only in Idaho, but will also serve as a model to other states," said Hildegarde Ayer, executive director of the Lee Pesky Learning Center. "We are committed to making this an ongoing effort to improve early childhood literacy throughout the Gem State, and with help from the state and federal government look forward to making that happen."

The White House Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development Research supports the Literacy Matters' goals:

  • The development of early language and pre-reading skills is fundamental to a child's reading ability, academic success and success throughout life.

  • Developmental scientists have found that the brain acquires a tremendous amount of information about language in the first year of life, even before infants can speak.

  • The better babies are at distinguishing the building blocks of speech at six months, the better they will be at more complex language skills at 2 and 3 years old, and the easier it will be for them at 4 and 5 years old to grasp the idea of how sounds link to letters.

  • A child's knowledge of the alphabet in kindergarten is one of the most significant predictors of what that child's tenth grade reading ability will be.

  • Language and learning materials in the home are the parenting behaviors most highly linked with vocabulary and early school achievement."

For more information, contact the Lee Pesky Learning Center at

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