Text Messaging Service Aims to Improve Children’s Literacy
The Manchester District library is part of a new service that aims to improve childhood literacy … with text messages! Parents of kids 5 and under can receive messages suggesting easy, fun ways to incorporate learning into their everyday lives.
The more words children hear in their early years, the easier it is to learn to read and write when they start kindergarten. The new service, called TALK: Text and Learn for Kindergarten, aims to change this, helping children learn through simple, everyday interactions.
The service sends biweekly text messages suggesting activities that parents and caregivers can easily incorporate into daily interactions with their children. The service will also notify parents of free educational activities in their area. TALK is available to parents and caregivers of children ages 5 and under across Washtenaw County, and officially launched on Saturday, October 14. Parents can sign up by texting TALK to 77453 or visiting www.texttolearn.com.
“TALK is a great resource for all parents, but it’s really designed to reach parents who may not have a lot of free time or resources,” said Jodi Krahnke, Head of Youth Services at the Ypsilanti District Library, which won a grant to develop the program. “We’re excited to provide parents ideas for quick and easy things they can do to help their children be ready for school.”
The service is funded by a $175,000 grant administered by the Library of Michigan. TALK is led by the Ypsilanti District Library and is one of four projects that was awarded the competitive state wide grant. The program is funded for three years and will act as a pilot that could later be expanded to other areas of the state.
TALK is based on a research-based program Every Child Ready to Read, which promotes five principles to build essential pre-reading skills: reading, singing, talking, writing and playing. TALK uses these five principles as a foundation and sends tips to parents to help their child develop early literacy skills. While the service is available and valuable to every family in the County, the goal is to reach parents who may not otherwise have the time or the ability to attend library programs.
This project is led by the Ypsilanti District Library and includes partners across the county. The message content is being developed by a team of youth librarians from the Milan Public Library, Dexter District Library, Saline District Library, and Northfield Township Area Library. Washtenaw Literacy and the Great Start Collaborative’s Parent Coalition are helping ensure the texts are understandable for all parents. Additional partners include the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, Washtenaw Success by Six, the Children’s Literacy Network, and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.