Considering how many times we have the have vs have not debates, I thought this was rather encouraging to me and hopefully to others. You don't have to have much to give your child a good head start and a good learning base.
For the record, I voted for both Lugar and Daniels, both Republicans, and I am sure I made a good choice..if for no other reason than this.
In classrooms across Indiana, students are increasingly coming to school on unequal footing. Parents, educators, community leaders and policymakers are looking for answers to a complex and difficult set of challenges commonly termed as the achievement gap.
The good news is that there are some simple steps we can take to help close that gap for many of our children.
Over the past 15 years, research has shown that exposure to books in large quantities sets the stage for success, and that children's early language experiences vary widely depending on the income and education level of their parents.
A recent study led by Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee had 852 disadvantaged students choose 12 books to take home at the end of the school year for three successive years. The results found that the students who were given books returned to school with significantly higher reading scores than the students who were not given books. In fact, simply having the books had the same positive effect as if the students had attended summer school.
Other studies show similar results. One study spanning 27 countries showed that children who grow up in households where books are present are likely to attend school three years longer than children who come from homes where books are not present. It holds true in both rich and poor nations -- regardless of form of government or ideology.
Another important research study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley at the University of Kansas found that children who hear more language from early infancy through age 3 develop substantially larger vocabularies, fluencies and comprehension skills than those who do not, ultimately resulting in higher academic achievement.
It can be difficult to know how best to help our children reach their highest potential. Reading and talking to your children are simple tasks and also a treasured educational opportunity. Have books at home as an early education resource. Visit the library. Invest your time by reading books together and talking about the characters, the pictures and the stories.
Let's make a commitment to talk and read with our children and take that first step to closing the achievement gap.
We hope you will join our statewide book drive to help Indiana's youth. Since 2008, we have collected and distributed more than 60,000 books to children and to local schools, community organizations and health-care facilities. We collect these important educational items and distribute them within the local communities to those with the greatest need.
For further information on receiving or donating books, please visit: www.lugar.senate.gov/bookdrive  or email email@example.com .
For free items in English and Spanish on conversation starters and early learning tips, please call or e-mail The Indiana Partnerships Center at: (866) 391-1039 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (866) 391-1039 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Additionally, Gov. Mitch Daniels has declared Aug. 15-21 "Parents as Partners in Education" Week. Celebrate by honoring parents for their contributions this school year. Go to www.fscp.org  or call The Indiana Partnerships Center for more information.