Tera Cochran recounted this story at the Seven Hills Rotary Club on Tuesday at the Coosa Country Club to illustrate the feedback her fellow volunteers receive from parents whose children benefit from receiving books and other materials encouraging reading from the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy.
Cochran is a community action team coordinator for the nonprofit foundation that works to prepare Georgia children to become confident readers.
Approximately 61 percent of low-income families have no age-appropriate books for children in the home, and one third of children in the state start school unprepared to learn, according to the foundation.
When children enter school without a background in reading they’re already starting well behind their peers, and teachers struggle to bring them up to speed.
According to Cochran, literacy is key for a successful, prosperous life, and books are the spark that enables that possibility.
“Our goal is for every child to have the same library,” Cochran said. “(Reading) starts a conversation, regardless of how much their parents make or how much they have.”
The Ferst program was founded by Robin Ferst in 1999 in Madison. Since its inception the program has mailed more than 3 million books to an estimated 162,000 children across Georgia at the cost of $36 per child per year.
The child’s home is mailed a committee-selected book every month with a newsletter containing community resource information and book guide specific to the title.
Cochran said the foundation’s mission is only possible through volunteer work, community organizations and fundraisers to support the purchase of books and materials for the children. The foundation hopes to eventually spread to every county in the state of Georgia.
“Even if someone can only donate $3, that will provide one book for a child,” she said. “It goes a long way.”