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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. It also has non-profit status in Georgia.

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 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.

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!”


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