Equity Begins with Early Literacy!

Thank you to the more than 50 advocates and allies who joined Literacy Inc. (LINC) and other members of the New York City Council’s Early Literacy Initiative, City’s First Readers* for a dynamic panel discussion on June 11, 2020. The panelists' remarks illustrated what City’s First Readers partners have known for years: support for early literacy programs is not discretionary, it is essential. For me, one of the most powerful messages of the event came from Dr. Alan Mendelsohn who summarized the intersecting issues beautifully: Even though children have been somewhat spared from the disease itself, the COVID-19 pandemic is a catastrophe for families with very young children ... Parents already under stress from poverty and racism are now under even more stress from COVID, making it even harder for young children to have the experiences of being read to and played with, that are critical for early development and school readiness. COVID will therefore widen gaps that were large before the pandemic, resulting in even lower educational attainment, lower incomes, and even more health and mental health problems that will persist for children’s entire lives, long after the acute crisis recedes. If you missed Equity Begins with Early Literacy, it can be viewed online anytime by clicking here. Throughout this ongoing health and justice crisis City’s First Readers partners did not give up on the more than 1 million families served by the initiative annually. The New York City Council should not give up on them either. In libraries, pediatric offices, childcare centers and throughout the community City’s First Readers creates equity through early literacy. *The New York City Council's Early Literacy Initiative, City’s First Readers coordinated by Literacy Inc. (LINC), is a collaboration of 12 non-profit organizations and libraries united to develop and deliver effective early literacy programs. City’s First Readers partners empower parents, teachers, caregivers and community institutions and offer the necessary tools to ensure that all children, regardless of their social economic backgrounds, have a solid foundation to start school successfully, thrive academically, and have the opportunity to succeed beyond their school years. City's First Readers partners include: Brooklyn Public Library, Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Hunts Point Alliance for Children, JCCA, Jumpstart, New Alternatives for Children (NAC), Literacy Inc. (LINC), New York Public Library, ParentChild+, Reach Out and Read of Greater New York, Queens Public Library, and Video Interaction Project. For a more extensive version of this letter, please click here. If you have questions or would like more information about City's First Readers please contact Emily Gertz, LINC's Director of Strategic Initiatives at egertz@lincnyc.org or 212-620-5462, ext. 141.