Sunday, September 18, 2011

Access to Books is the First Step to Literacy: How to Help Families in Need

I love children's books (have I mentioned that?), and am admittedly a bit of a book hoarder. 

Baby bookworm has copies of all of my favorites from when I was a kid (Miss Nelson is Missing, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and Richard Scarry's Nursery Tales).  Of course, she has her own personal favorites (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and I Like Cats).  But, where would she be without books for every holiday (such as Mouse's First Halloween, Where is Baby's Valentine?, and The Night Before Christmas)? She also has her own magazine subscription, endless sticker books, I Spy game books, and book apps.  And, last but not least, she has about 20 books checked out from the local library at any given moment in time.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
A childhood favorite of mine and now hers
 This kid has access to books (no wonder she's a bookworm). 

She's lucky, though, because ACCESS to books is not only the first step on the road to literacy, but one of the most important factors that can effect how much she will read.  Kids with access to more books generally end up reading more!  And if you've read all of my other know then that reading (and doing lots of it) as well as creating a supportive literacy enviornment in your home plays a key role in the development of other skills such as vocabulary, comprehension, and writing.
But, I know that not all kids are as lucky as baby bookworm. 

Nearly 2/3 of low-income families in this country do not own ANY books for their children (I got this stat from the Reading is Fundamental website). 


This blows my mind.

It also led me to wonder what I could do to help.  And while this blog is my way of trying to help parents help their children, it's not putting books in kid's homes.  In fact, I'm assuming that this first step on the journey toward literacy is taken care of already. 

So after doing a little bit of research I found a couple of ways that baby bookworm and I can help other families have access to books.  Hopefully one of these options works well for you too!

First Book provides access to new books for children in need.  And there are several ways we (and YOU) can help. 
-          We can donate - as little as $10 can provide 5 new books
-          We can hold a fundraiser to bring new books to families in the area who are in need
-          We can volunteer at a First Book Advisory Board in the community
-          We can join in the effort as a Partner with First Book

To read more and donate, I encourage you to visit their website and learn about their cause.

Kindercare Learning Centers also has a unique opportunity to provide access to books for children in need through the Read. Share. Give. Program. 

Basically what you do is: 1) read a book to your child, print out a tracking number and stick it on the inside cover of the book, 2) then you share it and ask that friend to share it and so on and so forth!  You can actually track how far your book has traveled.  

The more people who participate in Read. Share. Give., the more Kindercare will donate (the give part) to non-profit early reading programs.

Pretty cool if you ask me.  I can't wait to see where our books end up.

So join me in helping children and families in need.
And, please, if you know of or work for a similar organization that gives access to books for children in need - feel free to leave a comment or send me an email and I'll help spread the word!

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