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Literacy event draws large crowd
Organizer, others pleased by response
Mrs. Claus and other guests arrived Tuesday morning at Georgia Highlands Medical Plaza to talk and sing with children and their parents during ‘tis the Season for Stories — a literacy event sponsored by several local organizations in the county. - photo by Frank Reddy

Granger Bales watched the world wide-eyed Tuesday morning, taking in a holiday-themed feast of color and music at Georgia Highlands Medical Plaza.

The nine-month-old son of Julie Bales of Cumming, Granger was one of nearly 100 other children at the venue, which played host to ‘Tis the Season for Stories — a literacy event sponsored by Georgia Highlands Medical Services, Forsyth County Public Library, Literacy Forsyth and Forsyth County Schools.

Julie Bales and son, Granger Bales (nine months old), watch a puppet show Tuesday morning at Georgia Highlands Medical Plaza as part of a literacy event there. - photo by Frank Reddy
The event included storytime, craft-making, the opportunity to meet Mrs. Claus (Santa was out of town, preparing for the holiday season) and a puppet show.

Julie Bales said her son was partial to the puppet show but also “liked to dance.”

“It’s more crowded than I expected,” Bales said, laughing. “I guess it’s because it’s a rainy day, and there’s free books.”

Barnes & Noble donated books for the event so that each participating could take home something to read. Altrusa International of North Georgia also donated books.

Amy Chang, Title 1 Director with Forsyth County Schools, said the event was an attempt to “promote awareness of early childhood education in our community, meaning that early learning starts at home. It doesn’t start when children enter kindergarten.”

Added Chang: “It starts with their first teachers, which are their parents. We wanted to give parents an awareness of activities and things they can do to promote literacy at home.”

Stephen Kight, assistant director for public services with Forsyth County Public Library, said it was “exciting” seeing the turnout.

“We’ve been working with Forsyth County Schools and Georgia Highlands Medical Service and Literacy Forsyth for several months now to plan this event,” Kight said. “This was meant to be a pilot program to see how many people would come and we’re just overwhelmed by the response. This is fantastic. We will definitely continue this. We’re thinking about doing this quarterly around the county.”

Yolanda Nabors, chief operating officer with Georgia Highlands Medical Services, said Tuesday’s literacy event was indeed a success.

“We’re very excited because we have this facility we can utilize now for things like this … we’re very proud to be able to host this today,” Nabors said.

The crowd seemed happy too — especially nine-month-old Granger Bales who watched the puppets, mouth agape. And then the music started, and the kid looked like he could hardly handle the excitement as he bobbed his head, grin growing larger.