Building a Case for Literacy and Rebuilding a City

Mar 14, 2022

Building a Case for Literacy and Rebuilding a City

On Tuesday March 1, Literacy Inc. (LINC) staff testified in front of New York City Council on behalf of immigrant families and children and discussed the impact of COVID on English Language Learners (ELL). Senior Director of Community and Family Mobilization, Albania Jimenez spoke on LINC’s programming; City’s First Readers Manager, Meredith Jones explained the effective strategies of City's First Readers (CFR); and Chief Organizational and Community Advisor, Debora Mulrain described the rapid responses of the NYCReads Initiatives. These testimonials addressed the benefits of reaching English language learner (ELL) students early and viewing early literacy as an essential response to the pandemic. We knew long before COVID that early literacy programming, especially for children five and younger, is an effective preventive measure, mitigating the effects of structural inequities and preparing students to enter school ready to learn. The experiences that are precursors to reading – singing, talking, drawing, playing, and being read to – prepare children to love reading and acquire proficiency by the time they are tested in school. An early literacy program may not seem to be a high-priority public response to COVID when stacked up against such needs as housing, addressing food insecurity, and job creation. However, there is a large social-emotional benefit and an enormous equity factor to providing access to early literacy, in addition to the value of daily reading for skills acquisition. LINC directly targets the enormous learning gap that COVID has exacerbated, equipping immigrant families with the tools to become community leaders and empowered parents. LINC provides books to build home libraries and strategies that parents/caregivers can use regardless of their capacity to read or speak English. Long-term investments in immigrant families with children five and under is a preventative approach that can ultimately mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic. Prevention beats intervention every time. Expecting our city’s education or health institutions to address all the variety of English language learners’ needs is not realistic nor effective. LINC’s model provides holistic, family-based approaches that ensure reading extends beyond the classroom. Early literacy must be an important and essential part of our city’s pandemic response to rebuild a more equitable city. Thank you to our advocates, Albania, Meredith and Debora for making the case – early literacy is essential in rebuilding our city. To view LINC’s latest virtual literacy programs, visit: www.lincnyc.org/onlineprograms.