Improving Childhood Literacy... with a text!

Friday, October 13, 2017

The more words children hear in their early years, the easier it is to learn to read and write when they start kindergarten. Unfortunately, children from lower-income families hear far fewer words before age 5 than their middle income peers, placing them at a lifelong disadvantage. A new text messaging service aims to change this, helping children learn through simple, everyday interactions.

The service, called TALK: Text and Learn for Kindergarten, sends biweekly text messages suggesting activities that parents and caregivers can easily incorporate into daily interactions with their children. The service also notifies parents of free educational activities in their area. TALK is available to parents and caregivers of children ages 5 and under across Washtenaw County, and will officially launch on Saturday, October 14. Parents can sign up by texting TALK to 77453 or visiting

“TALK is a great resource for all parents, but it’s really designed to reach parents who may not have a lot of free time or resources” said Jodi Krahnke, Head of Youth Services at the Ypsilanti District Library, which won a grant to develop the program. “We’re excited to provide parents ideas for quick and easy things they can do to help their children be ready for school.”

The service is funded by a $175,000 grant administered by the Library of Michigan. TALK is led by the Ypsilanti District Library and is one of four projects that was awarded the competitive state wide grant. The program is funded for three years and will act as a pilot that could later be expanded to other areas of the state.

TALK is based on a research-based program Every Child Ready to Read, which promotes five principles to build essential pre-reading skills: reading, singing, talking, writing and playing. TALK uses these five principles as a foundation and sends tips to parents to help their child develop early literacy skills. While the service is available and valuable to every family in the County, the goal is to reach parents who may not otherwise have the time or the ability to attend library programs.

This project is led by the Ypsilanti District Library and includes partners across the county. The text message content is being developed with a team of youth librarians from the Milan Public Library, Dexter District Library, Saline District Library, and Northfield Township Area Library. Washtenaw Literacy and the Great Start Collaborative’s Parent Coalition are helping ensure the texts are understandable for all parents. Additional partners include the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, Washtenaw Success by Six, the Children’s Literacy Network, and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.


For Immediate Release: October 12, 2017

For more information contact:
Jodi Krahnke                                       Gillian Ream Gainsley
Head of Youth Services                      Communications Coordinator
(734) 482-4110 x1322                         (734) 879-1303


Play Date Launch

TALK will launch with a Play Date at multiple locations across the county on Saturday, October 14 from 10:30am-noon. Play Dates will feature fun giveaways and help parents learn easy ways to keep kids busy and learning with items they already have at home.

Dexter District Library: 3255 Alpine St., Dexter, MI 48130, 734-426-4477
Milan Public Library
: 151 Wabash St., Milan, MI, 734-439-1240
Northfield Township Area Library
: 125 Barker Rd., Whitmore Lake, MI, 734-449-0066
Saline District Library
: 555 N. Maple Rd., Saline, MI 48176, 734-429-5450
Ypsilanti District Library--Ypsilanti Farmer’s Market
: 100 Rice Street, Ypsilanti, MI 48197, 734-482-4110 x1390

Ypsilanti District Library--Whittaker Road: 5577 Whittaker Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48197, 734-482-4110 x1340


About the Grant

This project is funded (in part) with a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services administered by the Library of Michigan.

About the Ypsilanti District Library

As a community resource, the Ypsilanti District Library's mission is to enrich life, stimulate intellectual curiosity, foster literacy, and encourage an informed citizenry. 

For more information on TALK

To sign up, text TALK to 77453 or visit

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