TWO five-year-old boys arrive at their first day of primary school and are handed The Very Hungry Caterpillar during reading time.
One of the pair reads each word and associates it with the pictures in the book.
The child who can't read the words, becomes disinterested.
He will play catchup throughout school and the odds are already stacked against him to perform poorly.
In 2012, one in five children in Ballarat entering primary school faced developmental problems, according to the Australian Early Development Index.
Unfortunately this figure has increased since 2009.
In Wendouree, Mount Pleasant, Golden Point and Miners Rest this figure is one in three children.
But the solution may be on the next page.
The Ballarat Imagination Library will flood childrens homes with books later this year with a dream to make Ballarat a "reading city".
Coordinated by United Way, the aim is to provide every Ballarat child between the age of zero and five with a new book every month, for free.
From birth until the time the child reaches primary school, 60 new books will fill the home library.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar will be joined on the shelf by other famous titles including The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Koala Lou, Dear Zoo and The Enormous Crocodile.
The Ballarat Imagination Library is in partnership with the global Dolly Parton Imagination Library, an initiative that provides more than 2.5 million books to children annually.
"80 per cent of people receiving Centrelink payments have literacy below grade two."
The Imagination Library program traditionally targets communities suffering a significant degree of social disadvantage, however Ballarat Imagination Library coordinator Jan McIver said the Ballarat counterpart will take a more universal approach.
"Our aim is that a child is read to every day. We want a book to be pulled out if they are sitting at the bus stop, the dentist or the chemist," Ms McIver said.
"Even having the books in the home will make a difference.
"If a book is there it will encourage that close connection between parent and child.
"Studies have recognised that change has to start early. It has to start at birth. Educators have realised that the most amount of learning happens between the age of zero and five.
"Eighty per cent of people receiving Centrelink payments in Australia have literacy below grade two.
"The Imagination Library is about changing those cycles of disadvantage."
The Ballarat Imagination Library will join five others that are spread throughout Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and another Library that is yet to be launched in Adelaide.
The Portland Imagination Library launched in July has been met with overwhelming enthusiasm; almost half of eligible children in the Glenelg region were registered in the first three weeks.
The Ballarat project is a mammoth effort on both a financial and administrative level, with some 7,500 eligible children costing $6 each per month.
The Transition to School Program was launched in 2008 by Child and Family Services to support vulnerable families with children who have an educational disadvantage because they may be exposed to social isolation and/or damaging environments.
Program coordinator Lyn Featherston oversees about a dozen volunteers who go out to these homes and read to children with an aim to implement a positive transition into primary school.
According to Ms Featherston a three-year-old who is raised in a low socio-economic environment will learn about 200 words, a stark contrast from a high socio-economic environment where the child will be familiar with 800 words or more.
"All children learn 80 per cent of their language before they are three; an understanding of how it works as well as numbers and words," Ms Featherston said.
"We need to get our heads around as a society to access under threes to read to them."
Ms Featherston said that once a child is stuck behind the eight-ball it can be a gruelling process to catchup, but possible.
Yuille Park P-8 Community School principal Clete Paige has noticed a steady increase of children coming to prep class who can't do their ABC's since starting at the Wendouree school 12 years ago.
"Out of 10 children we may have had four that were behind in class, now there would be six out of 10 that are lower than expected levels of awareness in the designated categories," Mr Paige said.
"I think its down to the pressures of society, there's alot more happening and education doesn't seem to be treated in the same respect as it once was in the community.
"It's left to teachers to deliver the whole package over all categories, rather than parents doing alot of the pre-education."
The AEDI determines five developmental categories that determine whether a child is ready for primary school.
"All children learn 80 per cent of their language before they are three; an understanding of how it works as well as numbers and words."
Physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, communication skills and general knowledge are each taken into consideration when categorising a child's developmental level.
"We have a general increase in enrolments that have additional needs across all five categories," Mr Paige said.
Schools are faced with enormous financial pressures to provide extra attention to children not quite coping.
"We have to invest more time and effort into helping these children get in front of the eight-ball," he said.
"This implements a financial burden upon us, the catch-22 could be up to $40,000 a year for each student who requires extra attention."
At the other end of the system, Community Indicators Victoria show that 13 per cent of 17 year olds in Ballarat were not attending any educational institution in 2011, which sat below the state average of 14.7 per cent.
The Ballarat Imagination Library could be the solution to reverse the cycle and access our city's children in their most vital stages of learning.
On Thursday night during the Spirit of Ballarat Awards, United Way Ballarat CEO Geoff Sharp made the Ballarat Imagination Library public and called for sponsors to get behind the program.
From November, families will begin signing up their children to the Ballarat Imagination Library and the first books are expected to arrive in the mailbox in January.
"We want to see Ballarat grow," Ms McIver said.
"Long term employment and having a good education are key to a good life."
"It takes a village to raise a child."