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Volunteer Spotlight

Edwina Turner

At the core of Ferst Readers, are our selfless volunteers. Edwina Turner, Stewart County (GA) Community Action Team (CAT) leader is one of the hardest working volunteers on behalf of childhood literacy! Locally, she is known in her community as “The Book Lady” to civic officials, teachers and most importantly, the children.

Edwina shared that a moment of epiphany occurred one day while grocery shopping, she thought, “Books or milk? Some families must decide and can only buy one. Which one are they really going to choose?”

In Stewart County Georgia, like many young children throughout United States of America, there are homes with “zero children’s books” for them to pick up and no adult who understands why that’s not acceptable if children are to be prepared to learn in school. These children will enter kindergarten unprepared, having never been read a story, never been introduced to literacy terms, and never been asked a reading comprehension question. From the first day of kindergarten, these children will be behind their peers.

Ferst Readers has been present in Stewart County since 2015. “They had a very strong start for a small county, mailing over 100 books to children each month and had the security of significant seed money to support the program. In 2019, when Edwina was made aware that program funds had been exhausted and the county program was in jeopardy, she took the lead to secure funding and local partnerships for Ferst Readers. Children in this county would not receive books in their homes each month without Edwina’s dedicated leadership.” - Debbie Ross Ferst Readers Regional Program Coordinator

“WIC Wednesdays” is a local community day where Edwina registers early childhood children and families to receive Ferst Readers books in their homes, she also works with both the Head Start program and the school system to register early learners to receive books. “By partnering with WIC, it gives me an opportunity to speak about ‘Language Nutrition’ while families are picking up their food nutrition items through the WIC program.”

“I like to tell donors, for the price of two 20 ounce drinks each month, they can put quality books in children’s homes through Ferst Readers. It’s that simple!” Edwina Turner “We host Reader’s Day” at the local Head Start and leave children with a basket with their names on it to hold their Ferst Readers books at home. It is the start of their at-home library and hopefully, a lifetime of learning for these babies!

Ferst Readers salutes Edwina Turner, our 2019 Volunteer of the Year and honors you for the stellar work that you do on behalf of young learners!

Literacy Facts

Did You Know?

  • 1 in 5 of our children lives in poverty
  • Approximately 61 percent of low-income families do not have a single piece of reading material suitable for a child
  • A third of our children come to school unprepared to learn
  • One in four children in America grow up without learning how to read
  • The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home
  • Students who do not read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school
  • Children from middle-income homes have on average 13 books per child. There is only one book for every 300 children in low-income neighborhoods

With your help, this can change…

Early Reading Benefits

The key is to start at birth. Immersing a child in a rich literacy environment can be a stronger predictor of literacy and academic achievement than family income. The more words a child hears, the larger the child’s vocabulary, and the larger the child’s vocabulary, the more likely the child will be a proficient reader.

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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.

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