“FROM A-TO-ZOO” EVENT AT SANTA ANA ZOO HEADLINES CHILD LITERACY MONTH ACTIVITIES ACROSS ORANGE COUNTY

“FROM A-TO-ZOO” EVENT AT SANTA ANA ZOO HEADLINES CHILD LITERACY MONTH ACTIVITIES ACROSS ORANGE COUNTY

Regional “Read Early, Read Aloud” campaign emphasizes importance of reading aloud to young children

IRVINE, CALIF. – The Children and Families Commission of Orange County wants children and their families to go “wild” for books at the Santa Ana Zoo on November 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as the Commission hosts “From A-to-Zoo” in honor of Child Literacy Month.

The special one-day event will feature the Commission’s Big Books Booth – giant children’s books flanked by colorful beanbag seats and shelves of classic page-turners – located in the Zoo’s Amphitheatre Park.

Commission staff will lead story time readings and distribute free books to children age 5 and younger, as well as parent resources, and library card applications. Admission to the Santa Ana Zoo is free for children age 3 and younger, $5 for children from 4-12 years old, and $8 for adults (ages 13+).

The “From A-to-Zoo” event headlines a month-long series of child literacy-themed events as part of the Commission’s “Read Early, Read Aloud” campaign. The public awareness campaign aims to reach children and parents throughout Orange County by supplying books, reading tips, story time activities, and literary resources for children ages 0-5 to help close the gap on early literacy.

“The research is clear. Children are more likely to become good readers if they start school having been exposed to a wide variety of literary experiences at an early age, even as infants,” said Kristen Thompson, Director of Ready to Learn Program for the Children and Families Commission. “One of our core mission’s is to connect children to learning, and we want people to know that it only takes one book to open up a lifetime of learning.”

First 5 Commissions of Southern California Champion Regional Effort

The effort is part of a larger regional Child Literacy Month campaign among the First 5 Commissions of Southern California, all of which were created by the voter-approved tobacco tax initiative, Proposition 10. Seven other Prop. 10 Commissions in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Diego and Imperial counties are also encouraging parents and caregivers of children ages 5 and younger to read aloud to their young children and to start building their home libraries early.

Orange County “Read Early, Read Aloud” Events

In Orange County, the Children and Families Commission’s Early Literacy Program is coordinating more than a dozen different reading events and developmental screenings at locations throughout the county. By providing readers for the events, delivering free books, and offering information and resources to parents, the Commission looks to draw attention to the importance of early literacy on a child’s life.

In addition to “From A-to-Zoo,” the Commission’s “Read Early, Read Aloud” campaign activities will include the following.

Free Developmental Screenings: The Commission will host eight free developmental screenings at locations across Orange County for children age 5 and younger. The Developmental Screenings will provide parents with an assessment of their child’s literary development. For information on how to sign up for the developmental screenings and locations, please call Ryan Maughn at 714-285-2320.

Saturday Story Time at Adventure City in Anaheim: The Commission’s Early Literacy Program will lead regular story time activities, distribute free books to children age 5 and younger, parent resources, and library card applications from noon to 4 p.m. every Saturday in November.

Weekly Story Time at Border’s at The Block at Orange: Every Friday from 11 a.m. to noon in November guest readers will lead story time readings at Border’s at The Block at Orange.

The Facts on the Early Literacy Crisis

Research indicates that less than one quarter of fourth-graders in California are proficient or above on national reading tests, ranking 45th of all states. The roots of this crisis in literacy begin much earlier in a child’s life. According to studies, children entering kindergarten may have as much of a vocabulary gap as eight years – even before they begin school. This literacy gap creates dramatic challenges for many children later in life. In fact, children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3-4 times more likely to drop out in later years, according to the National Adult Literacy Survey.

Children and Families Commission and Early Literacy Program

The Children and Families Commission of Orange County through its countywide Early Literacy Program (ELP) supports an ever-growing number of programs and organizations that are dedicated to making sure children are healthy and ready to learn when they enter school. The ELP brings critical literacy resources to families with children ages 0 to 5 years of age. ELP supports literacy programs reaching children throughout the county by supplying books, best practices, readers and literacy resources. For more information, please visit www.earlyliteracyprogramoc.org.

About the Children and Families Commission of Orange County

The Children and Families Commission of Orange County oversees the allocation of funds from Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax on tobacco products sold in California. Funds help pay for education, health care and child development programs for children from the prenatal stage to age five and their families. The Commission’s goal is to ensure all children are healthy and ready to learn when they enter school. For more information, please visit www.occhildrenandfamilies.com.