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Promoting child literacy through annual first steps day celebration in Orangeburg

100 children gathered in Orangeburg to celebrate First Steps Day through reading and hands-on games and activities.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — The annual First Steps Day is a day dedicated to promoting early child literacy and making learning fun. It's a national movement that brought together about 100 children in Orangeburg County.

“When they have a love of reading early on then reading is not a chore, it’s just a part of their lives and they learn and they grow and they’re able to explore so many things through literacy and the arts," said Orangeburg County First Steps executive director Kathy Jenkins.

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Children were given books and played hands-on activities and other games with their parents and caretakers. It merged with Jumpstart's Read for the Record Day, that features a book called Nigel in the Moon by Antwan Eady. Jenkins said this year marks the first time a black author has been featured.

“It’s all about dreaming big so, of course, we wanna encourage our young people to dream big and realize the world is their oyster, and they can be anything or anyone that they dream to be," Jenkins said.

Parent Kayla Rivers said she's intentional about reading books written by black authors to her child. “It also allows him to pretty much understand that he can be anyone, he can be an author if he wants. It allows him to dream big."  

According to Jenkins, many early education programs in the county are in need of additional funding as costs are rising. This is why it's especially important for parents to lay the groundwork for their children's learning at home to prepare them for the classroom.

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“It starts with them when they’re in the womb actually," said said parent Latasha King. "So when they’re in the womb, they start to grow, and the more you learn, the more you read, the more you talk to your baby, have that bonding time with your baby, the successful the baby will be." 

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