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The Program:

Children Read is designed to improve reading skills of children by giving them books of their own before they reach kindergarten. To do this, Children Read collects and repairs used and new books and then distributes them free of charge to children. Children Read is located in Atlanta, Georgia.


Children Read is a federally approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 

The Challenge:

One of the biggest obstacles to literacy is the scarcity of books in the homes of low-income families. Early exposure to books is so important for developing prerequisite literacy skills, and strong reading skills correlate highly with later school success. Therefore, Children Read collects books to give to pre-kindergarten children attending Title 1 schools, Sheltering Arms, Head Start and other programs for low-income families.


Parent and Child Literacy: 

Children Read seeks to encourage family reading. Research has shown that adults with low literacy levels can improve their own reading skills as well as that of their children through active family reading. One of the goals is to help break the cycle of poor literacy from generation to generation. 

How Children Read Happened:

Marlene Zeiler has spent her entire adult life sharing her passion for reading with others. She attended Mount Holyoke College and graduated from Stanford University.  After marrying an academic psychologist, his career took them from Wellesley College to the University of Iowa, and then (with four children) to Emory University. Her professional life began in a Massachusetts behavioral program teaching severely developmentally disabled institutionalized adults  many skills including reading. In Iowa, she worked for the Office of Equal Opportunity in a Goodwill program and taught several adults to read. At the Georgia Retardation Center, she did the same with four-year old children. She also trained teachers in behavioral skills, and continued to do that at Georgia Regional Hospital. In 1979, Marlene left the world of teaching and training in order to start Tall Tales Book Shop, an independent book store, which she owned and operated and ultimately sold in 2013. Then, inspired by the Children's Book Bank in Portland, Oregon, a pioneer in distributing free books to low-income pre-school children, she started Children Read to perform the same service in Atlanta. The goal is to collect gently worn or new pre-kindergarten children's books and to get them in the hands of low-income families who would not have books otherwise.

Marlene remains on our Board of Directors as Founder and Past President.


Board Members:


Marla Johnson


Marla has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Georgia, a Post-Baccalaureate in Early Childhood Education from Agnes Scott College, and a Master's in Urban Teacher Leadership from Georgia State University.


In 2018, Marla hosted a book drive for Children Read in conjunction with the book fair at her children's pre-school and she's been involved ever since! Marla, a native Atlantan, is a former elementary school teacher; she taught for 11 years in Atlanta Public Schools.



Lauren Gold


Lauren has an MS in Linguistics & TESL/TEFL and has taught ESL to adult learners for most of her career. She has taught in various settings, including refugee programs, university, and worksite. She's currently working with refugee women in Clarkston.



Dr. Cindy Kennedy Reedy


Cindy has an Ed.D. Special Education, an

M.S. in Child Development and Family Relations and a B.S. Psychology/Personnel Management.


As former Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Arcadia University in Philadelphia, Dr. Cindy Kennedy Reedy’s professional career focus was on special education, development of the young child, and communication practices between families and early childcare providers. When she moved to Atlanta in 2015, this passion led her to volunteer with Children Read and to assist with its mission. Reading and donating books to young children, their teachers, and their school libraries is a powerful game changer in the fight for literacy.

Meet Our President:

In March 2021, Cindy Jaret became the new President of Children Read. Cindy is a retired pre-
school teacher who taught for 15 years in public and private schools in Atlanta. Cindy has a BS
in Elementary Education from Cleveland State University and claims ‘Kiddie Lit’ as her favorite
class. Throughout her teaching career, Cindy spent many hours in her local library searching for
books for her classes. She showed her young students that books can be for learning, for
comfort and for fun. Cindy also frequented Tall Tales Book Store and when she told Marlene
that she was going to retire, Marlene invited her to join the group of volunteers at Children
Read. It wasn’t long before Cindy expanded Children Read by coordinating readings and book
distributions to the pre-k classes in both the DeKalb County School System and the Atlanta
Public Schools. “I have been involved in community service volunteerism my whole life; I am an

organizer and I love books, so Children Read is a perfect fit!”


Dr. Charles Jaret


Charlie received a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago and is Professor Emeritus at Georgia State University's Department of Sociology.  His research and teaching interests were in urban sociology, immigration, and race/ethnicity.  He currently serves as the treasurer for Children Read and lends a hand in other Children Read activities. He also tutors students at Briar Vista Elementary school and helps in a Backpack Buddies program.



Jill Jones

Jill has a BA from Fisk University and an M. Ed. from University of Virginia.  She is a mother of two Chamblee High graduates and an educator of more than 40 years. Since 1998, Jill has owned and operated a tutoring center, Reading Phonics Math & More, formerly in Stone Mountain, now in-home and virtual since 2014.  Her passion is helping children learn to read and comprehend what they are reading, while educating parents with examples to support their child(ren)’s efforts.

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