The Early Learning Partnership of York County raised the money to purchase and distribute 20,318 books last year to preschool children during their pediatric well visits through Reach Out and Read.
Many families say they are grateful for a new book to enjoy together, but ROR is much more than a book giveaway program, explains ELP’s executive director, Teresa Creech. “It’s how you as a parent are your child’s first teacher,” she said.
One of the goals of ROR, which provides books to children ages birth to 5, is to encourage bonding between parents and children. It also aims to promote the development of early literacy skills that will become more important when children enter school.
“The books are also a good tool for the medical staff,” Creech said. “Because they can assess where a child might be on their learning curve.”
Children learn from listening to stories with their parents, for example, that reading words on a page is from left to right, and from the top of a page to the bottom. They learn how to hold the book right side up, and to turn the pages.
ELP provides Read out and Read, a national evidence-based program, in 10 pediatric medical offices across York County. Through ELP’s collaboration with the national ROR office and its ROR-Carolinas affiliate, ELP provides training and new children’s books that are both diverse and age and language appropriate.
ELP also supports the pediatric medical team, which promotes bonding, early brain development, and a love of learning in young children and families during well-child visits.
Creech said an average book costs around $3 to $5 each. However, books that are diverse in terms of the story content, the author or the publisher are in shorter supply, and so they usually cost more — anywhere from $10 to $19 each.
ELP’s funding to buy books for the ROR program comes from individual and corporate donations and grants, she said. ELP can purchase books for a lower-than-retail price through some vendors.
Right now, grant writing efforts are focusing on generating additional funding to purchase diverse books “to reflect all types of children and all types of cultures being served by ELP,” she said. It is important for children to see others like them as well as others that are different as well.. Understanding these differences promotes empathy.”
“Any donation of any amount is helpful to assist us in purchasing these books,” she said. One local group collected coins from children for ELP, she said.
The books are part of a curriculum designed to expose children to words, and to strengthen their vocabulary, she said. “You want to expose children to words, and it doesn’t matter what those words are, but books are a good tool for parents,” she said.
Donations can be made through the web site as this link: https://crm.bloomerang.co/HostedDonation?ApiKey=pub_40e40aaf-c9e8-11e5-9d49-0a1b37ae639f&WidgetId=1386496
Contact us if you have stories to share about your ROR experience at your pediatric practice.