The Mississippi Children’s Museum and Barksdale Reading Institute unveil a new traveling exhibit: Rocky’s House 

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The Mississippi Children’s Museum (MCM) and Barksdale Reading Institute (BRI) hosted a ribbon cutting on Thursday, February 24 to unveil a new traveling exhibit, Rocky’s House, which promotes the literacy campaign Talk from the Start and its mission to raise awareness that talking to and with children from birth is essential to learning to read.

Rocky’s House introduces caregivers and children to a cast of characters representing the diverse population of Mississippi, Rocky’s Friends. Along with Rocky, they guide guests through three primary methods of language and literacy development: playing, talking, and reading. Visitors will learn about these methods and have a chance to play them into practice. MCM’s Education Team played an important role in creating the characters known as Rocky’s Friends and contributing to the educational and thematic development of the Rocky’s House traveling exhibit.

“Our museum is committed to developing innovative programs that address the needs of Mississippi’s children and set them on the path to success,” said MCM’s President and CEO, Susan Garrard. “Struggles with literacy are among the biggest challenges that our children face. This project is an unprecedented opportunity to partner with an acclaimed educational institution, The Barksdale Reading Institute, to create resources that will raise awareness and positively impact children and families in our state.”

A custom mascot illustrated by MCM’s Senior Graphic Designer Lori Nesbit, Rocky the Reader, is the ambassador for the campaign. Rocky’s House will travel statewide with its first stop at MCM-Jackson until March 20 and then it will travel to MCM-Meridian. Following its time at MCM, Rocky’s House will travel to the Coast and the Delta. Rocky’s tour will share the campaign’s message “We all play a part, talk from the start,” which encourages parents, caregivers, educators, and community supporters to talk to and with young children. You can request to book Rocky’s House in your community by visiting www.talkfromthestart.org.

“Our goal is to encourage and provide examples of the many ways that parents and adult caregivers can talk, read, and sing with and to infants and toddlers to help build their brains for reading. Studies have shown time and again that strong oral language and listening comprehension are critical to learning to read. This is a simple and no-cost way to boost literacy in our state,” said BRI CEO Kelly Butler.

The Talk from the Start Campaign and its companion project, the Rocky’s House traveling exhibit, have been made possible through funding by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

For more information, visit www.TalkfromtheStart.org or email talkfromthestart@msreads.org.