Harris County Public Library Launches Ambitious Early Literacy Initiative

Growing Readers is a new comprehensive program that nurtures lifelong readers from birth.

HOUSTON, TX – Harris County Public Library (HCPL) is spearheading a county-wide early literacy initiative designed to prepare area children from birth to age 5 for success in school. The Growing Readers project is a comprehensive program that gives parents and caregivers the tools, know-how, and resources to make everyday activities into fun, enriching learning experiences for families with young children. 

Growing Readers represents a major milestone in HCPL’s mission to give parents free access to resources that will positively impact their children’s success in school. “We want every child in Harris County to be Kindergarten ready as they start their educational journey," said Edward Melton, Executive Director of Harris County Public Library. 

Early literacy is not about teaching babies and toddlers to read, it is about helping them develop the simple but necessary skills they will use to learn to read. All Growing Readers activities recognize the five practices that build early literacy skills: Singing, Talking, Playing, Reading, and Writing. 


Growing Readers was designed by HCPL staff experts in early literacy and childhood development with the goal of increasing school readiness for children across the county, especially for those families with limited access to educational resources.   

Each component of Growing Readers was designed to build specific skills children need to become strong readers. “The Growing Readers Program was designed over 18 months with the input, research and creativity of dozens of HCPL staff members,” said Jennifer Bacall, Youth Services Assistant Manager for Programs, Partnerships and Outreach. 

Growing Readers is tailor-made for busy family schedules. “The program and materials were carefully researched and designed to be user-friendly for our patrons to participate in as many ways as they would like to. It will be available at every branch in the system and documents can be printed from online if families have transportation conflicts,” Bacall added. 

Growing Readers is a comprehensive early literacy program. It consists of three levels: Little Seeds and Little Sprouts (Prenatal - 18 months), Little Buds (18 months - 3 years), Little Readers (3 - 5 years). Harris County Public Library provides the resources, materials, programs, facilities, and expertise to support early literacy 

  • Flashcards and Activity Kits: Flashcard sets for each age group and Activity Kits for toddlers and preschoolers help make early literacy a part of families’ daily routine. 
  • 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a nationwide early literacy initiative that helps nurture a love of reading in children. HCPL provides the tools to track reading as families progress toward the goal. 
  • 30 Million Words before Age 4: Studies have shown that the more words a child hears, the better prepared they are for school success. The library offers tips and materials to fill children’s word banks. 
  • Family Place Libraries: HCPL has thirteen Family Place Libraries throughout the county. They allow families to learn through play in safe, thoughtfully designed spaces. Each Family Place Library also offers free parenting workshops. 
  • Story Times at Your Library: All twenty-six HCPL locations offer story times throughout the week. 

First and foremost, Growing Readers is about shared time and bonding between child and caregiver. It is meant to be a fun learning adventure for both caregiver and child.  

Learn more about HCPL’s Growing Readers at www.hcpl.net/services/early-literacy or visit any Harris County Public Library branch location. 

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