Families visiting the Eastpointe Memorial Library can sign up for prompts for fun literacy activities, such as organizing things by letter, family reading time, or spelling out words with chalk, pictured, that they can do almost anywhere with the TALK: Text program.

Families visiting the Eastpointe Memorial Library can sign up for prompts for fun literacy activities, such as organizing things by letter, family reading time, or spelling out words with chalk, pictured, that they can do almost anywhere with the TALK: Text program.

Photo provided by Abby Bond


Eastpointe library provides new program for early readers via text messages

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 23, 2021

Advertisement

EASTPOINTE — Parents looking to give their children a head start with literacy have a new tool at their disposal thanks to a program that the Eastpointe Memorial Library is participating in.

Called “TALK: Text,” the program will send participating caregivers periodic text messages with suggestions or challenges for their pre-K child that encourage and foster literacy.

“A lot of parents and families are busy, and they don’t always set aside time for enrichment for their children,” said Abby Bond, the head of youth services at the Eastpointe Memorial Library. “It might not be scheduled or planned ahead, at least. This program takes on the planning part, and it will give you different things to do with your child. It’s all about finding ways to increase literacy through everyday life to prepare kids for kindergarten.”

“This resource is accessible with a cell phone and text service,” Eastpointe Memorial Library Director Sue Todd said in an email. “Texts are sent two times a week with different activities that will remind parents that learning can occur anytime, anywhere. This service will get children excited about learning with messages geared just for them.”

Several libraries across the state are taking part, and the Eastpointe staff was impressed by the potential of the new program.

“It was brought to us by the Ypsilanti District Library. They were given a grant that provided the funds for it,” explained Bond. “It was enough for Ypsilanti, and they had enough left over so that any library in Michigan could join and also participate. So far, Eastpointe, Grosse Pointe and (the Clinton-Macomb) libraries are participating in this area.”

TALK: Text is part of the Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Project and made possible for Michigan libraries by Midwest Collaborative for Library Services. TALK: Text is derived from the research-based program Every Child Ready to Read.

“Assisting parents and caregivers get children ready for school is what we do at the Eastpointe Memorial Library,” Todd wrote. “Parents are the child’s first and best resource, so when I learned about TALK: Text, I immediately saw the possibilities the program had to offer our residents. … The library will also promote programs using TALK: Text for children that happen this summer and throughout the year. We are excited to offer something that we hope parents and caregivers will take advantage of to get children ready for school.”

The texts can vary in content. The local participating library — in this case, Eastpointe — can also include its own messages and challenges.

“Two of them a month can be from the library itself,” said Bond. “Other things can be just finding the letters of the alphabet while at the grocery store. … It might say, ‘Read aloud from any magazine to a baby.’ It might say to sort household items by letter.”

To join, parents and caregivers need only to provide their ZIP code and the child’s birthdate and to select whether they want the texts to come in English or Spanish.

“In the library, we have signs up that show people a phone number to text to join,” said Bond. “That number is 75547, and they just have to text ‘talk’ to get to the next step. They don’t need to provide their names or anything, just the child’s birthday because it only goes up to kindergarten. They will automatically be getting these texts sent to them after that. The texts come about twice a week. Our library also will be sending out texts periodically to those signed up through us.”

Bond believes this will give young readers an extra leg up as they prepare to enter school.

“I think because any little thing that can help get children ready for school is necessary, and having parents actually knowing what to do and knowing how they can do their part is huge,” she said. “A lot of families are willing, but they need a little direction or a little nudge. After that, they can run with it. This gives parents a place to start.”

Advertisement