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Early Education Expert Shares Love of Reading with Preschoolers


December 14, 2006

New Brunswick, NJ – Early education expert Ellen Frede watched the eyes of preschool children light up as she read Mrs. Wishy Washy to them in an effort to raise awareness about The Bridge of Books Foundation’s holiday book drive and stress the importance of early literacy for young children.

Frede, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), read the charming tale to some 30 preschoolers from the Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission (MRESC) Early Childhood Center in downtown New Brunswick. NIEER teamed up with Starbucks to help highlight the need for donated books through this special holiday reading event.

“Children from all over have come to enjoy reading by being exposed to books like Mrs. Wishy Washy. Research overwhelmingly shows us the importance of quality early learning experiences in preparing children to succeed in school,” said Frede, a developmental psychologist specializing in early childhood education. “In fact, early literacy learning experiences lay the foundation for later academic achievement – achievement that in turn translates into reduced grade retention, higher graduation rates and increased earnings.”

“Starbucks has taken a leadership role in promoting books for children,” said Frede. “It was a natural for us to join hands with them, as a research organization which studies and promotes the benefits of reading to young children.”

The 3- and 4-year-old children walked three blocks to the Starbucks from their preschool — and then walked back carrying their very own books to continue their exploration into the joy of reading at home. The MRESC early childhood center is an Abbott district preschool. New Jersey’s Abbott program ranks as one of the top state programs in the nation for access and quality, based on NIEER’s annual ranking of state preschool programs found in The State of Preschool: 2005 State Preschool Yearbook.

NIEER plans to put its research into action when it builds a national model preschool in New Brunswick on the grounds of Rutgers University. The state of the art preschool will serve as home for a model prekindergarten program that will provide a high-quality preschool education for New Brunswick children.

The Bridge of Books Foundation collects new and used books to deliver to children across New Jersey. The organization distributes books to foster family agencies, homeless shelters, Head Start programs, underfunded schools and after-school programs, neighborhood centers, boys and girls clubs, and directly to children at food pantries. The Bridge of Books organization provides a wide range of books to meet the needs of children from preschool through high school. Collaborating with Starbucks, the foundation is seeking books to donate to children through the holiday season and beyond.

More about The Bridge of Books Foundation, Inc. can be found at www.bridgeofbooksfoundation.org.

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The National Institute for Early Education Research (www.nieer.org), a unit of the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, supports early childhood education policy by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on research. NIEER is supported through grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and others.