Culver City Edition Lead Story West Edition

Assemblyman reads to kids to begin First 5 Reading tour

LOS ANGELES — Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-South Los Angeles, spent part of his morning Oct. 17 reading to 25 toddlers and preschoolers (and their parents) at Central Library in downtown Los Angeles

His special appearance was part of First 5 California’s Official Reading Tour of “Talk. Read. Sing. It Changes Everything” campaign.

The campaign is designed to make sure toddlers are mentally stimulated during the first three years of life. “The importance of reading and other types of verbal engagement, particularly during early years, can set our children on a life trajectory for success,” said George Halvorson, chair of the First 5 Commission.

“Talking, reading, and singing with young children helps billions of neurons make stronger, critical connections inside the brain.”

Ridley-Thomas and Brooke Sheets, senior librarian at the Central Library’s Children’s Literature Department, read books, played ball and interacted with the children while giving parents easy tips they can do to keep building the neurons in their child’s brain.

Those included such things as talking with their child about the items on a grocery list, going over the colors and singing nursery rhymes.

Ridley-Thomas is a champion for increasing access to high-quality public education as well as expanding access to mental health care.

Each year he hosts the Crenshaw HealthFest, bringing free health services into his 54th Assembly District. The first book he remembers his parents reading to him was “Where the Wild Things Are.”

First 5 California funds programs that educate parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers about the critical role they play during a child’s first five years.