Literacy is not just an education issue. It is an economic, workforce, and quality of life issue. In Georgia, 68% of fourth graders do not read proficiently.* Research shows that children who can’t read proficiently by the end of third grade are more likely to experience poor health, have discipline problems, and drop out of high school. As adults, they are more likely to spend time in prison, struggle with unemployment, live in poverty, and experience poor health outcomes.

The Mayor’s Reading Club program launched in August 2022. The goal of this new program is to improve the literacy skills and overall success with early reading of children and youth in Georgia cities through encouragement, support, and leadership from city mayors. The reading club is a simple concept designed to serve as a “building block” to a future Literacy Improvement Strategy Cohort to assist communities in developing and implementing a locally based literacy improvement strategy.

The program is flexible and can be delivered virtually, in-person, on-demand, year-round or at specific times and promotes partnerships and collaboration between the city, county, local nonprofits, schools, libraries, and the business community. In addition to mayors being featured readers, “guest readers” can be incorporated into to the program to promote engagement from other city elected officials, city staff, youth, and the community. The program can be expanded to incorporate a companion activity, such as art, that provides an experiential learning opportunity.

As part of the program, Georgia City Solutions has commissioned a children’s book series to teach young readers about local government. The first book in the series titled, Georgia Caroline Visits City Hall, follows Georgia Caroline and her classmates on a field trip to City Hall in their hometown of Happyville, Georgia. They are excited to meet Mayor Joneson and find out what a mayor does and what happens in City Hall.

Each participating city will receive a Mayor’s Reading Club starter-kit with a program implementation and resource guide, suggested book list, and a copy of Georgia Caroline Visits City Hall book. As part of the program, GCS will convene a forum twice per year of all mayors participating in the program to exchange program ideas, share best practices for successful reading programs and report on the impact of the program in their community.

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress.

©2022 Georgia City Solutions, Inc.

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