By: GEEARS for Saporta Report
Uncertain. Unprecedented. Unsettled. No matter how one might describe the times in which we live, one thing is for sure: our youngest Georgians are living through a summer unlike any we’ve seen in recent history.
With schools closed since March, and many caregivers having to take on teaching duties on top of their full-time jobs, finding new and fun ways to engage with our children through reading has become especially challenging.
The Mayor’s Summer Reading Club (MSRC) hopes to provide families with the books and resources they need. Now in its eighth year, this initiative promotes early literacy, family engagement, and vocabulary enrichment for children ages birth through five and their families living in the City of Atlanta. The program designates a city-wide book choice for infants and children ages three to five to share with families, at no cost to them.
It comes at a critical time. This year, because of school closings and the difficulties of distance learning, some students could lose nearly a third more of their literacy skills than during a normal summer, according to a study from the Brookings Institution.
GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will launch the 8th Annual Mayor’s Summer Reading Club (MSRC) with a virtual event hosted by the Alliance Theatre on Thursday, July 9. Led by GEEARS, the MSRC is a collaboration between the City of Atlanta, the PNC Foundation, the United Way of Greater Atlanta, the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Speech School and many other public-private partnerships.
The event will be hosted by the Alliance Theatre and feature a story time with playwright and author Will Power reading his 2020 MSRC book, In the West End to the children, families, and partner organizations in attendance. It is free and open to the public. RSVP here.
This year’s book selections are outstanding. The first, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, tells the story of a big construction site, where all the hardworking trucks say goodnight to each other before getting the rest they need for another hard day’s work.
And In the West End takes place in the historic West End neighborhood. In it, author Will Power and illustrator R. Gregory Christie take the reader on a trip to explore the many places in the West End where one can find healthy, delicious food. This book was expressly written for the 2020 Mayor’s Summer Reading Club.
A step-by-step reading guide created by the Atlanta Speech School to help families engage with their children while reading is available for each book. MSRC program partners joined a virtual Storytelling Training led by The Alliance Theatre and Atlanta Speech School in May 2020.
This year, MSRC and our community partners have distributed more than 19,900 books to children, including 4,000 board books for infants and 15,900 books for children aged 3 to 5. For more information about the MSRC, the full list of partners, and a calendar of MSRC events, visit www.MayorsReadingClub.org
If you aren’t able to make the launch event, Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) is also hosting the “McBath Summer Storytime” series. The program is designed to encourage reading for children and students during the summer months. Families can tune in to Rep. McBath’s Facebook page every Sunday at 7:30pm for a bedtime story with the Congresswoman, starting Sunday, June 28, 2020 at 7:30pm. The Fulton County Library has made virtual programming activities available, including a live children’s “Streaming Storytime” every weekday at 11am.