Rosa DeLauro (D-3) has her way, first graders across the third congressional district willl have plenty to talk about with their teachers when they get back from their summer vacation.

If U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3) has her way, first graders across the third congressional district willl have plenty to talk about with their teachers when they get back from their summer vacation.

After coming across some statistics from a report called the "National Assessment of Educational Progress," DeLauro decided that the time was right for helping first-graders beat some pretty grim odds when it comes to reading. According to the report, up to 40 percent of Connecticut's school children are having trouble learning to read. The reason for this, the report explained, is that children when they are first introduced to reading, aren't given a strong foundation in the basics. This, according to the report, seriously hinders their learning experience throughout their school careers and beyond.

After a brainstorming session with her staff, DeLauro recently launched a reading program in her district called "Rosa's Readers," a program she says will help children become better readers.

"All children deserve a word-class education," Delauro said, "but in order to achieve that they've got to learn how to read well. Once they achieve that, there's no telling what heights they could reach."

While she is very impressed with how the schools are combating the problem, she said that her program's main objective is to instill reading into the child's home life too, asking parents and relatives to take over where the teachers leave off.

Though all 18 towns in her district have invited her to publicize her program, Stratford's Center School was one of the first to respond. Recently, DeLauro stopped in to first grade teacher Susan Barrett's class to read a book to the kids, and to see them read as well. Center School Principal Julie Luby also stopped by.

DeLauro was glad to see the first grade students reading a book actually meant for third-graders, called "The Goodness Gorrillas." The book is about children performing good deeds around their town.

Alex Norris was one of the first graders that actually got to sit and read with DeLauro. It was good, said Norris, but she and her friend Dylan Diot also said that they like to read chapter books too, like those in the "Harry Potter" series, a book that chronicles the adventures of a boy possessed with magical powers. Another first-grader that read with DeLauro was Crystal Hicks, who really enjoyed seeing a member of U.S. Congress for the first time. "It was cool," she said.

School officials hoped that DeLauro's visit will fire the kids up for the summer reading program, since the school emphasizes reading already through their own school-wide programs, such as "Reading 2000" and some in-class programs that allow the students to to read at whatever level they feel they're capable of