One hundred students at Ramona-Alessandro Elementary School were the first of 4,000 transitional kindergarten and kindergarteners from San Bernardino City Unified School District to be gifted a free book from First 5 San Bernardino as part of its Gift a Kid a Book campaign. Literacy rates in young children have declined since the pandemic, and Gift a Kid a Book wants to encourage people to consider the gift of reading this holiday season.

First 5 San Bernardino, which focuses on the early development of children under 5, created a winter wonderland to kick off the book gifting. The students at Ramona-Alessandro shared in a book reading of “Give a Mouse a Cookie,” a holiday singalong and a surprise visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

“We are passionate about the role early reading has in a child’s development, and since the season of giving is upon us, there is no better time than now to give back to our young school children,” said Karen Scott, executive director of First 5 San Bernardino. “Seeing the look of joy in their eyes when they received their book is just as magical as the season. It gives me confidence that the work we are doing to encourage early reading is having an impact.”

Research studies show that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops by age 5, and healthy brain development is supported by reading at a young age.

“To have the support of local community organizations like First 5 San Bernardino means everything,” said Teresa Hopkins, principal of Ramona-Alessandro Elementary School. “Our passion is helping these students develop and grow up to enjoy learning, so donations like these make us feel like a little bit of the weight is taken off our shoulders. The surprise of Santa and Mrs. Claus handing out books made today magical for our students … they will remember this day for a long time!”

Visit for lists of book recommendations by age, a free downloadable bookmark and more important reading resources.

Additional County Update News – December 15, 2023

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