Early reading supports learning and growth. It provides a solid foundation for academic achievement by introducing children to new words and concepts while developing critical thinking skills and supporting social and emotional learning. This is vitally important since the most significant brain development happens in the formative years from birth to three years old.
Planting People Growing Justice™ Leadership Institute (PPGJLI) is partnering with Wilder African American Babies Coalition (AABC) to support early childhood education in the Hamline/Midway community. The R.A.W. library was recently launched in furtherance of this goal. The name reflects the importance of reading, arithmetic, and writing. The library is located in the Wilder Child Development Center (CDC) which provides early childhood education and preschool care for children ages 16 months to five years old. R.A.W. Children’s Library is open two days a week for CDC families to come in and check out a book. The R.A.W. Library contains over 100 diverse reading titles for young readers. Since its opening on Oct. 27, 2022, parents have expressed extreme gratitude for the space and book selections and enjoyed having their children participate in the monthly book reading events from local authors.
Reading, writing, and math skills are commonly viewed as separate and independent skills. However, these are essential skills that impact school readiness and future career development. A study conducted by Reut Balhinez and Shelley Shaul published in “Frontiers in Psychology” demonstrated the intrinsic relationship between comprehension in the three disciplines. Reading is the thread that weaves together these skills. It makes learning accessible and engaging.
It is especially important to support sources of children’s books and educational resources in our post-COVID-19 pandemic learning environment. Disruptions to in-class instruction resulted in a reduction in reading, writing, and math skills. The problem was compounded by online instruction when many households did not have access to an internet connection. PPGJLI is working diligently to replace these learning losses with learning gains with the goal in mind of ensuring all children have the resources they need to thrive.
One of the ways that PPGJLI promotes literacy is by helping children of color to discover joy in reading. We provide programs, initiatives, and resources that serve as a mirror for the BIPOC community. These mirrors provide a positive representation of people of color on the pages of books. This is evident in each of our PPGJ books that feature characters like Justice, who is a young Black difference maker, and Akua, who is a global citizen. Our books also focus on career development which enables children to see themselves in career pathways they might otherwise not consider like STEM. Careers in STEM are growing at a rate of two to three times faster than all careers combined. Yet, research shows Black and Hispanic workers are underrepresented in most STEM careers and represent less than 20 percent of all STEM professionals. Our latest PPGJ book, “Kojo Loves Science,” introduces STEM in an engaging and practical manner. Access to diverse books encourages literacy and aids in building the essential connection between reading, writing, and math children need to succeed.
The R.A.W. Library supports family learning and promotes healthy communities. “Wilder AABC and Projects is dedicated to putting mothers, babies, and families at the center of what we do. The importance of healthy childbirth, brain development, and the fight against the social damage of health for the entire family is our mission,” according to Sameerah Bilal Royce, founder and director of AABC.
You can support the R.A.W. library and PPGJLI literacy initiatives by hosting a book drive at your workplace or local civic group. Learn more: https://www.ppgjli.org/host-a-book-drive
Through her organization, Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, Dr. Artika Tyner seeks to plant seeds of social change through education, training, and community outreach.
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