United Way program promotes childhood literacy | SteamboatToday.com

United Way program promotes childhood literacy

Frances Hohl/For Steamboat Today

An infant gets an early start on literacy.

Starting in early 2018, every child in Routt County will be able to start his or her own library and continue building that library until the age of 5, thanks to a new United Way program.

"Thirty-nine percent of children in Routt County are not prepared in literacy," said Executive Assistant Ali Schrader, of the Routt County United Way. "If a child starts behind, statistics show they'll stay behind."

That is why Women United, a group of local philanthropic women, is launching the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a literacy initiative that has been tested in other parts of the country and, more recently, in Moffat County.

The womens’ group plans to begin signing up children at various community events and public places in January.

"There are no income restrictions. It's for everyone," Schrader said. "Each month, they'll get a book in the mail with their name."

Country singer Dolly Parton first started The Imagination Library in 1995 for her hometown in Eastern Tennessee, where low literacy was a huge problem.

Recommended Stories For You

"They saw higher literacy rates in children and their parents," Schrader said.

The program is now international.

If parents with a newborn sign up their baby, the child will have 60 books in his or her library by age 5. The program sends out one high-quality, age-appropriate book per month, each selected by a committee of education experts from the Dollywood Foundation.

Some of the books sent out will be in both English and Spanish.

United Way hopes to fund 1,350 Routt County children for the next five years.

People can donate online at routtcountyunitedway.org/donate-dpil.

For more information about the Imagination Library, call 970-879-5605 or email office@routtcountyunitedway.org.

Literacy facts

• The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning at school.

— National Commission on Reading

• Children who aren’t reading at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

— The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Three main impact areas for Dolly Parton Imagination Library

• Children and parents experience a love and understanding of reading and share an excitement about books from participation in Imagination Library.

• The program promotes parental engagement, and families are able to connect around books. Parents are encouraged to read with their children, instead of to their children.

• Books in the home support a child’s continued success, and building a home library instills a sense of pride and self-esteem. Books in the home have consistently proven to be a predictor of a child’s academic success.

— 2015 West Tennessee Governor’s Imagination Library Impact Report

Go back to article