A lot of learning happens before your child enters school, or even preschool.

In fact, it starts when they’re born.

That’s why Bridgeport Schools started a program that introduces children from birth to age five to the joy of books.

The family gets a drawstring bag filled with free books—everything from Five Little Monkeys to Green Eggs and Ham.

So by the time they enter school, books will be a part of their life.

Preschool teachers have been concerned for some time that not every child has access to books at home.

“Maybe they don’t have books that they can look at, that they can see the pictures or that their parents can read to them prior to them learning how to read,” said Kamaron Sabinski, Bridgeport Elementary School principal.

“Some of the most precious memories I have as a parent are of sitting with my children when they were little, rocking them and just reading book after book,” said Superintendent Brent Ripley. “And what you don’t know as a parent is that you’re developing more than just that skill of reading, but that bond between parent and child.”

The bag filled with 12 little books can be life-changing.

“Because getting books in the hands of families and kids is the best way to get them to love to learn to read,” said Brooke Syrylo, preschool teacher. “Reading to your child, whether they’re sitting in your lap, you’re reading a book, you’re sharing a nursery rhyme, those things are so important.”

It fits perfectly with Bridgeport School District’s mission.

“Here at Bridgeport, we focus on three things—loving the kids, building those relationships and growing them academically.”

But 110 sets of books cost $9,000.

So Alfred Scheid, Bridgeport Class of 1950, paid for it.

Scheid, now 90, knows that books changed his life.

“He often told us he wasn’t a real good student,” said Don Cash, director of the Bridgeport Education Assistance Foundation. “And there was a librarian at the time who had given him some books, instilled his love of reading, and he went on to attend Harvard, become a venture capitalist working with E.F.  Hutton and become one of the most successful businessmen in California.”

With the books, come videos of them being read.

“So if a parent is tired or just has something else to do, they can just pull up that video, and it’s one of our teachers or administrators, reading their favorite book,” said Leslie Kosanovic, curriculum director.

And when those children enter school, their teachers won’t be strangers; they’ll know them already from the videos.

“They are those safe people that represent who we are at Bridgeport,” concluded Ripley.

Alfred Scheid’s foundation has donated more than three-quarters of a million dollars to Bridgeport Schools over the years.

Scheid now owns one of the most successful wineries in California.