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A new literacy program is available for San Diego County’s youngest residents to promote learning and reading opportunities throughout the region. 

First 5 San Diego and San Diego County officials announced HORRAY! For Reading on Tuesday to emphasize the importance of reading with children ages 5 and under. 

“Life is busy and at times can be hard to find a time dedicated to reading. HOORAY! For Reading wants you to know you can read, teach, and learn anywhere you are – the signs on the streets can be read, the colors around us can be observed, and anything can be counted. Reading with children also helps you bond and build a relationship with them,” program officials wrote in a statement. 

According to program officials, introducing children to literacy at a young age can help them feel loved, safe, and secure and build their confidence and resilience.  

“​​Sharing words with your kids for just a few minutes every day will make a lifelong impact,” reads the program's website. 

Medical data shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops in the first five years. Program officials say it is never too early to read with children. 

Studies have found that 37 percent of children start kindergarten without the necessary skills for lifelong learning. 

“Reading, literacy, and resilience skills have immediate and long-lasting health benefits such as increased cognitive function, memory, vocabulary, empathy, and decreased levels of stress,” program officials said. 

HORRAY! For Reading provides three free downloadable books to help parents and caretakers kickstart their children's reading journey. Resources, such as coloring books, activity sheets, flashcards, and more are available under the “Parent Toolkit” to prepare children for a lifetime of success. 

The free program is available in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese to increase its accessibility for families and children. 

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