Changing Children's Lives With the Gift of Literacy

Changing Children's Lives With the Gift of Literacy

Imagine a young child receiving a book in the mail every month until the age of five. What better way to say reading is important? Children enrolled in the Ferst Program receive a new book every month in the mail until their 5th birthday. There is absolutely no cost (ever) to registered children in participating areas! The program is made possible through the partnership with local, all-volunteer Community Action Teams (CATs).

Ferst Readers is a 501C3 organization whose funding is provided through private donations, corporate sponsorships, and grants. Contact us to help with a local program or get a new one started in your area so that we may work together to bring the gift of literacy to every child from birth-5 years old. Partnering together, we can help prepare every child for success in school and in life.

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Watch the full length video by clicking here.

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  • For Parents

    The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. Read More >>>
  • Program Overview

    Our Mission: Strengthening communities by providing quality books and literacy resources for children and their families to use at home during the earliest stages of development. Read More >>>
  • Get Involved

    Approximately 61 percent of low-income families do not have a single piece of reading material suitable for a child. Find out how you can help. Read More >>>

Children Who Read Succeed

  • Children develop much of their capacity for learning in the first three years of life, when their brains grow to 90 percent of their eventual adult weight. Source: Karoly, et al

Learning to read is a process much like learning to speak or walk. The process begins at birth. Children associate sounds with letters. They associate pictures with words. They learn how books work, reading left to right and turning pages. These are all steps along the way in learning to read. Long before a child begins formal education there are already children far ahead of the curve and even more lagging behind. 


  • The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. Source: Commission on Reading

If daily reading begins at birth, by the time the child is 5 years old he or she has been given roughly 900 hours of literacy preparation. Reduce that time and the child loses hours of nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and stories. All those words missed! No teacher, no matter how talented, can make up for those lost hours. 

Hours of reading books by age 5:

    • 30 minutes daily = 900 Hours
    • 30 minutes weekly = 130 Hours
    • Less than 30 minutes weekly = 60 Hours
      Source: U.S. Department of Education, America Reads Challenge
  • An average child growing up in a lower income family hears one half to one third as many spoken words as children in more affluent households. Source: Hart & Risley 1995

Research shows that the size of a child’s vocabulary is a strong predictor of reading ability. Preschoolers with large vocabularies become better readers. A child’s vocabulary grows through interaction and reading with parents or caregivers. The experience of reading with a loved one is one that children will remember for a lifetime.

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Thank you for visiting Ferst Readers!

Ensuring that children develop early literacy skills is one of the most important things we can do - as parents, as teachers - and as a society.

Won't you help us make a difference?

Adopt a reader today!   Make a Donation!