The Mayor’s Summer Reading Club (MSRC) is a program for children ages birth to five and their families that takes place in various locations throughout the city of Atlanta each summer. Every year, MSRC announces a city-wide book choice and works with direct service programs to distribute copies at no cost. Throughout the summer, libraries, summer programs, museums and other Atlanta institutions hold “book club reads” to model research-based methods of reading books with children and host enrichment events based upon the stories. The books come to life as children enjoy arts and crafts activities, drama exercises, and other hands-on activities designed to make the language in the stories meaningful to children.
This year’s book choice for infants is I’ll Build You a Bookcase by Jean Ciborowski Fahey. The book choice for 3-5 year olds is a collaboration between GEEARS’ Mayor’s Summer Reading Club, the Alliance Theatre, and the Atlanta Speech School funded by partners at PNC and supported by the City of Atlanta. The book, Atlanta, My Home, is written by local author Breanna J. McDaniel and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Brownieland was honored to work with the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club (MSRC) in 2019 to produce the video announcing the MSRC book choice, In My Granny’s Garden by Pearl Cleage and Zaron W. Burnette, Jr. with illustrations by Atlanta artist, Radcliffe Bailey. Watch the video and learn more HERE.
Find out more about GEEARS and the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club in this guest blog post by Mindy Binderman, Executive Director of GEEARS.
Twelve years ago, we founded GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students to support high-quality early learning and healthy development for Georgia’s youngest children, from birth to five.
At GEEARS, we aim to make Georgia the very best place to raise a child. Given that the most active and critical brain development happens in the first five years of a child’s life, maximizing families’ access to high quality early education is a key to that goal.
This value is expressed perfectly in one of our most long-running and beloved programs: The Mayor’s Summer Reading Club, which turns ten this year. Here’s everything you’ll find the MSRC doing each summer:
• With funding from PNC Bank, we produce an original book in partnership with the Alliance Theatre. This year’s book, for 3–5-year-olds, is called Atlanta, My Home and it was commissioned from author Breanna J. McDaniel and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. For 0–2-year-olds, the MSRC is also distributing I’ll Build You a Bookcase, written by Jean Ciborowski Fahey and illustrated by Simone Shin. This summer, we’ve gifted 19,520 books to young readers and their families as well as libraries and early education and care programs.
• We ensure that the MRSC is more than a book distribution program by emphasizing parent skill building through our partnership with the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School and by providing training and materials to help our partner organizations create language-rich experiences anchored by the MSRC books.
• We partner with all manner of child-centric organizations (this summer, we’ve partnered with 83!) to put on MSRC programming such as story hours and theatrical productions. In fact, our partnership with the Alliance Theatre has produced both books and plays/musicals based on those books. One of these collaborations, In My Granny’s Garden, still lives on three years after we used it for MSRC.
• We involve the program’s namesake, the Mayor of Atlanta! This summer, Mayor Andre Dickens participated in two MSRC events and counting. (Mayor Dickens shares GEEARS’ commitment to early education and recently invested five million city dollars toward it, while also calling for Atlanta Public Schools and the private sector to commit another $15 million.) The mayor read stories to tiny readers at the MSRC launch at the Atlanta-Fulton Central Library on May 14th, and joined other non-profits like Page Turners Make Great Learners and CBS 46’s Books to Kids for a celebration of reading at the West End Mall on June 16th.
As an advocacy organization, GEEARS has impacted countless policies over the years, from lobbying for passage of a recent lead abatement and mitigation law in Georgia to helping to put infant and early childhood mental health on policymakers’ radar. We’re also currently making great strides in our fight for historic, federal legislation that will provide significant, sustainable funding for early childhood education.
As a convener of community partners, the GEEARS initiative, PAACT: Promise All Atlanta Children Thrive, has helped child care programs with facility improvement and business-sustaining grants and has dispatched an army of volunteer “ambassadors” to help families register for Georgia Pre-K.
Every year, we approach our mission more holistically and with more impact. But nothing hits our core values quite as concretely and joyfully as the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club. A fundamental part of early education is fomenting a love of reading. . .
• MSRC books benefit both young children and the caretakers who snuggle up to read with them.
• They benefit preschools, Pre-K classrooms and K-12 schools, who will receive academic-ready students.
• And they benefit communities, from the city’s top official on down to the newborn babies, who come together to celebrate stories, learn about early literacy, and start building the solid foundation that leads to lifelong academic success.
That’s why the City of Atlanta maintains an enduring commitment to the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club—and why it lives in the very heart of GEEARS.
Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS) is a nonprofit organization operating to inspire and provide leadership for a statewide movement on quality early learning and healthy development for all children ages birth through five. GEEARS was established in 2010 to help business, civic and government leaders maximize the economic return on the state’s investments in early care and learning. The vision of GEEARS is for all Georgia students to enter kindergarten prepared to succeed and on a path to read to learn by third grade. Learn more about GEEARS HERE.