Page after page, mom Jessica Curry reads often to her daughters, 4-year-old Parker and 2-year-old Ava. But the young siblings are gaining much more than just a story from their mom.
“They're both pretty articulate for their ages; they're both very talkative," says Curry of her daughters.
These two toddlers are getting a leg up on important skills for their age. Children who are read to at home at an early age have a substantial advantage in school over children who are not, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
"When they actually get into learning to read, you know, I think things will progress faster, because they've already been exposed to sounds that they wouldn't necessarily have heard otherwise,” Curry says.
The family has lots of books at home, thanks to a free program for all Washington D.C. residents called Books from Birth.
"Parents and caregivers opt in to the program,” explains program spokesman Richard Reyes-Gavalian. “And once they do, they start getting a book delivered to their home every month."
Publicly funded, Books from Birth launched in D.C. three years ago. It’s one of the largest major U.S. cities to have such a program, and Reyes-Gavailan says it’s a wild success.
"We now have maybe over 41,000 children who have participated in the program,” he says.
Some neighborhoods here have more than 80 percent participation.
Curry says she couldn't be more grateful for the service.
"There's a lot of people who aren't able to buy books for their kids, so just to have a book that's coming in the mail every single month that they didn't have to spend any money for, I think it provides a great opportunity for some of those underserved populations," Curry says.