Words Work Wonders: Mrs. Western Carolina America supports reading program

Mrs. Western Carolina Sheena Gabbard has made Read Aloud 15 Minutes her platform during her reign. Here she is pictured with her son 13-month-old Grant.

A high-profile figure in western North Carolina is partnering with local agencies to highlight the importance of reading to your children.

The Partnership for Children of the Foothills recently announced Mrs. Western Carolina America Sheena Gabbard has made Read Aloud 15 Minutes her platform during her reign.

“I have a passion to instill in children a love of reading early on in life. One way to do this is by encouraging and educating parents on the importance of reading aloud to their children 15 minutes a day,” Gabbard said in her public service announcement. “Sadly, studies show that those that fall behind are likely to stay that way. Reading to your child just 15 minutes a day from birth can help your child incredibly.”

Benefits of reading to your child include a broader vocabulary and to foster a lifetime love of books and learning.

“We feel that this initiative is critical to our kids here in the foothills,” said Partnership for Children of the Foothills Program Director Cathy Brooks. “We want to see reading aloud every day for 15 minutes become one of the essential routines of raising a child, as normal as daily tooth brushing.”

The goal is to have every child being read aloud to by a parent or loved one for 15 minutes every day starting at birth. Read Aloud partners are united behind the idea that this simple step of reading to children from birth to age 8 can change the face of education, nationally.

The Partnership for Children of the Foothills joins a growing league of academic scholars, business leaders, government officials, child care providers, teachers, community workers, parents, and friends who are working to make reading aloud for 15 minutes every day, starting at birth, a parenting standard. Working together, will help more children begin kindergarten ready to learn, get the most out of their education, and become productive citizens.

 Read Aloud Fast Facts:

• Reading aloud is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning.

• Nationally, 37 percent of children arrive in kindergarten without the skills necessary to begin their learning journey.

• If a child is not reading at grade level by the end of the first grade, then there is an 88% probability the child will not be reading at grade level by the end of the fourth grade.

• Even in higher-income households, nearly 40% of families do not read aloud every day.

• More than half the children in this country - 13 million children - will not hear a bedtime story tonight.

 About Partnership for Children of the Foothills

With support from NC Smart Start Initiative, Partnership for Children of the Foothills provides programs for children ages 0-5 and their families in the areas of Child Care/Education and Family Support within McDowell, Polk and Rutherford counties.

The Partnership for Children builds and sustains relationships with community agencies and service providers, offering creative and unique programs for preschool children and their families, licensed child care centers and family child care. For more information, visit: PFCFoothills.org.

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