Letter: Invest in the future by reading to your kids

I hope you didn’t miss the excellent article in the July 7 Alaska Dispatch News opinion section (“Read to Your Baby Right From the Start”). Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that it is asking its 62,000 members to tell new parents to read to their children beginning at birth. For the first time, children’s doctors will promote early literacy as part of a standard of care.


This groundbreaking step by a respected medical association adds a formal endorsement of and pathway for delivery of this critical information: What happens in children’s early brain development effects them for the rest of their life. As a parent of five and spouse of a former elementary school teacher and librarian, I’ve long recognized what early childhood advocates have worked so hard to promote: A strong start in life contributes to successful cognitive and social-emotional skills.

This irrefutable understanding should form the basis of Alaska’s education policies and spending. When I served on the Ready to Read, Ready to Learn task force, chaired by First Lady Nancy Murkowski, we learned that nearly half of the children who enter school are unprepared to read or learn. We can change that dismal statistic.

Alaska should be a committed partner in providing a mix of early childhood supports. Pre-school should be available for low or no cost to every family who wants it. Support for parents, such as modeled by the Best Beginnings coalition, should be available to any family. The state, alongside businesses and foundations, should ensure that every new Alaskan is enrolled in the Imagination Library, which mails a book a month to youngsters from birth until age 5.

I am the only candidate for governor who has stated unequivocally that education is my number one priority. Why? Because it grows everything else: capable, productive citizens; innovation; and a skilled workforce — all of which contribute to a robust economy. Early childhood learning, which can pave the path to graduation, also reduces public costs associated with incarceration, joblessness and poor health. That’s a win-win.

Thank you American Academy of Pediatrics, All-Alaska Pediatric Partnership and Best Beginnings for pushing the best investment we can make.

Byron Mallott

Candidate for Governor



  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback






Sat, 05/19/2018 - 18:37

Net neutrality needed

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski did the right thing when she voted recently to protect net neutrality; it is unfortunate U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan did not.... Read more

Ambler Road is a zombie mega project, eating away at Alaska’s cash resources

A recent House Resources committee hearing on the 211-mile Ambler Road Proposal illustrates how prevalent knee-jerk development financing has become in this state, despite looming... Read more

Stop the HydroOne sale

Who gave Avista the option to sell America’s energy company to Canada’s HydroOne and why? Canada can later sell HydroOne to China or any country,... Read more

‘Criminal Fund’ bill was a win

The Alaska Legislature just united 60 to zero to strike a great blow for restitution for the victims of violent crime by passing House Bill... Read more