Gerry Garzon's Big Idea

Oakland’s library services director wants kids and parents to put down the phone.




For librarian Gerry Garzon, there is nothing more important than reading.
“Two-thirds of our third-graders read below their grade level, and it’s even worse for Latino and African-American kids. Right now I’m involved with the Oakland Reads 2020 initiative, a project that envisions an Oakland where at least 85 percent of students are reading at grade level by the end of third grade in 2020. Why third grade? Because that’s when kids shift from learning to read to using reading as a tool for learning, and if they don’t read well at that point, they’re less likely to catch up.

“I’d love to see parents and caregivers get off their phones when they’re with their children. Talk to your kids; ask them questions. Read with them. It’s so important that youngsters have a large vocabulary even before they reach kindergarten. We’ve got to start early, encouraging our kids to read. It just can’t wait.”


Civic Drawing Board asks Oakland citizens and civic leaders to indentify a concrete change that would improve their town.

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