The internet and the popularity of audiobooks have given rise to a new slogan: Listening is the new reading. That kind of thinking is short on imagination and long on the promise of an illiterate future that suggests Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.”

Columbia County, Columbia Opportunities Inc. and Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood’s Early Literacy and Learning Network last week launched new literacy campaign to get books into the hands of more than 500 Columbia County children to encourage reading before they reach their first day of school. The campaign is sorely needed.

The “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaign encourages parents and caregivers to talk, sing and read to their children, as young as infancy up to 5 years old, to nurture an important formative stage in their development.

The campaign uses free books, posters, tote bags, totes to carry books, brochures, advertisements and other ways to encourage parents and caregivers to have simple, everyday interactions with small children, including descriptions of objects seen during a walk or car ride, singing songs or telling stories so they can be better prepared for school and a lifetime of learning.

The commitment of the founding organizations to literacy is commendable, as is their decision to advertise the campaign in Greene County. Literacy is a goal of several Greene County organizations and we hope they will pick up on “Talking is Teaching” and apply it to their work to get children and adults interested in reading.

The numbers support the campaign, said Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson, who previously worked on the campaign as co-director of Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood.

“The rates for ELA [English Language Arts] are really around 47% in Columbia County across the board,” Johnson said last week. “Here in Hudson it is around 35%, to the point where Hudson City School District is looking at a two-year kindergarten. We really want to make sure we’re bolstering our students and helping out families.”

We hope the campaign will produce a cultural shift across Columbia County and Greene County that teaches parents and caregivers that learning starts at home, that listening isn’t the same as reading, and that knowledge gained from books is a powerful tool.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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