An initiative aimed at motivating the whole community to encourage reading, talking, singing, rhyming and drawing with children, is getting ready to launch in Port Lincoln next year.
Paint Port Lincoln REaD is part of the Paint the Town REaD (PTTR) initiative, which was started in the 1990s by a principal who found children starting school not ready to read and write.
Paint Port Lincoln REaD committee member Sally Cormack said reading to children from birth built early literacy skills so they were "firing up" for reading and writing by the time they entered school.
In Port Lincoln we've got increasing vulnerability in physical health and wellbeing, social competence and communication skills and general knowledge.Sally Cormack
She said building early literacy skills was crucial to success in school and later in life.
The Australian Early Development Census, done every three years, measures the development of children in Australia in their first year of full-time school.
The data is collected using an adapted version of the Early Development Instrument, which in Australia consists of about 100 questions across five key domains - physical health and wellbeing; social competence; emotional maturity; language and cognitive skills; and communication skills and general knowledge.
Data from the 2018 census, which measured 253 students from the Port Lincoln area, showed 35.9 per cent of children were vulnerable or falling below the 10th percentile in one or more of the five key domains and 19.8 per cent were vulnerable in two or more domains.
"Why we're embarking on this is amplified through the AEDC," Ms Cormack said.
"In Port Lincoln we've got increasing vulnerability in physical health and wellbeing, social competence and communication skills and general knowledge."
She said poor literacy at school could lead to poor adult outcomes impacting employment, health and self esteem.
The Paint Port Lincoln REaD steering committee is hoping to launch the initiative early next year with a float in the Tunarama parade.
Mrs Cormack said with the internal structure of the committee finalised, working on mascot and logo designs would begin.
She said then the committee would begin working on a "story" to engage children and families by introducing a reading egg and mascot.
The initiative also involves an annual reading day and taking advantage of existing opportunities to promote the strategy to the community and families.
"We also want to make sure it's low cost," Mrs Cormack said.
"Many of us are already involved in promoting early literacy skills, what PTTR does is bring us all together in a coordinated way, adding the broader community to spread the message even wider and make it fun."