Ferst Readers “strengthens communities by providing quality books and literacy resources for children and their families to use at home during the earliest stages of development.”  Ferst Readers wants every child to have the best start in life – and nothing helps a baby’s brain develop more than exposure to rich language and loving interactions. The key is having books in the home and being read to – right from birth. Our vision is “to create better learners, brighter futures, and stronger communities by giving every child under five access to quality books in their homes.”

Contact Us! (770) 377-1426

What Do We Do?

Ferst Readers was founded in 1999 to address the growing problem of children, many from from low-income communities, entering kindergarten without basic early literacy skills and school readiness, a preventable problem that has far-reaching impacts throughout students’ lives. The recipe for early school success is simple: start school with strong literacy skills. Ferst Readers’s recipe for encouraging early literacy development is even simpler. Ensure children have developmentally-appropriate books in their home and provide parents with resources that support them in their role as their child’s first teacher. Children in the Ferst Readers literacy program receive a bookstore-quality, age-specific book and resources mailed to them at home every month until their fifth birthday. It’s this access to print that helps create a language-rich environment in the home.

Why Is Our Program Important?

  • 61% of low-income families do not have a single book suitable for a child.
  • The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.
  • Children who have not already developed some basic literacy practices when they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out in later years.
  • The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home.
Click here to go to our Literacy Statistics page. Our impact: Participating communities with a robust Ferst Readers program have seen:
  • Kindergarten readiness assessment scores rise significantly; in some cases as much as double.
  • Higher post-test gains for 1st grade students who were Ferst Readers.
  • School-wide standardized reading scores increase by several percentage points each year as Ferst Readers graduates progress through the school system.
  • Increased awareness of the importance of developing early literacy skills – in the home, and throughout the community.
The majority of the cost of the Ferst Readers program, $36 per year per child, is raised in each community through donations from individuals, corporate sponsorships and foundation grants.

How Do We Do It?

Community Action Teams, or CATs, are made up of dedicated volunteers who oversee and administer the program in each participating county/community. CATs may differ in composition from county to county. Carroll County works with strong group volunteers to manage the work of over 4,500 children participating in our program. We have an executive board made up of 14 dedicated volunteers who each work in different parts of the program.The CATs are ultimately responsible for raising the majority of the funds needed for each child who participates in their program. This local involvement enables sustainability by building capacity at the community level around the important issue of literacy.

(From L to R)  Martha Ann Saunders, Karen Hartley, Tony Childers pose for a picture at Tanner Health System’s first annual ‘HEY BABY!’ event.


Alice Huffard Richards Foundation Power of the Purse Grant Carroll County Sheriff’s Department
Carrollton Civic Woman’s Club SMI Carrollton Golden K
Carroll EMC Foundation Tanner Health System Carrollton Presbyterian Church
Community Foundation of West Georgia Walmart J Smith Lanier & Co., Inc
Mary Alice and Bennett Brown Foundation West GA Ambulance, Inc. Lovvorn Road Investments, LLC
Morgan Oil Company
Ra-Lin and Associates, Inc.
Sertoma Club
Shot Spot, LLC
United Community Bank
West GA Electric