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October 30--  Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal has been advocating early childhood reading ever since her husband was elected governor and has visited Vidalia on several occasions over the years to read to children in their classrooms.

dealread1Tuesday morning she spent some time reading to pre-schoolers at the First Steps Infant/Toddler Center on Church Street, "Our studies show that about 70% of the brain is developed by the age of three.  We don't get them in four-year-old Pre-K till they're four, so it's important that parents who keep them at home and caregivers who keep them do what the pre-schools do, read to them, talk to them and sing to them so they understand what those words mean so that their vocabulary will be so developed when they get to school that reading will be easier for them," she said.

dealread4Jewell Moore of Vidalia founded the "First Step 2 Lighthouse" centers which serve infants up to school age children with a goal of preparing them to read with comprehension by the third grade.

dealread2Mrs. Deal believes her emphasis on reading has been helpful, "I think we have a lot of folks who are really aware of the need for reading and I see the difference in the schools.  I don't know that the testing is showing up all that much yet, but I think eventually it will.  The children know that we think reading is important and the teachers have become more aware and are working a lot harder with it."

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