Early Literacy Initiative and More Library News from Director Ryan Johnson

Spring has sprung (at least as of this writing). When you think of spring you might think of Easter, baseball, flowers, or (if you are a bibliophile) the Friends of the Library Book Sale.

This season’s book sale starts on Thursday, April 28, and runs through Monday, May 2. Shop from a wide collection of books, DVDs, puzzles and so much more! We’ll have something for every age group, and nearly every subject imaginable.

New items will be put out all day, every day of the sale. All proceeds benefit the library and help fund early literacy initiatives throughout our community.

One such literacy initiative is our brand-new partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL). DPIL puts books into the hands and hearts of children across the world. They partner with local communities (like ours) to provide a hand-selected, age-appropriate, high-quality book each month to registered children from birth to age five.

Our Friends of the Library group, in partnership with the United Way of Greater St. Louis, is
thrilled to launch this program here locally. For just $25 a year (at no cost to the family), a child receives a book in the mail each and every month.

We are working with the local school districts and pre-school centers to register our initial batch of readers, with hopes of expanding the program wider as funding allows. You can learn more about this initiative at ofpl.info/dolly.

There you can donate to help us reach more kids and we’ll eventually have online registration available as well. This program is so important because getting books into homes is a key component of future success.

Research shows that reading aloud is the single most important thing you can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning. The number of words that a child knows on entering kindergarten is a key predictor of his or her future success.

A recent TED Talk I watched really drove this point home: “A study that found that working class families and those being served by welfare experience what we refer to as the ‘30-million-word gap.’ Essentially, children in these families are hearing so many fewer words each day that by the time they are three years old, there’s this enormous disparity in their learned language.

And that gap in words follows them as they enter school, and it results in later reading, poorer reading skills, a lack of success overall. Children need to hear words every day and they need to hear not just our day-to-day conversation, they have to hear rare words: those outside the common lexicon we share, of around 10,000.”

Books mailed directly to the child’s home helps close this gap. A child who enters the program at birth will accumulate 72 books before their 5th birthday, all for just $2.08 per book. They will own this collection and can pass down to a younger sibling, a cousin, neighbor, or even donate to a local church, library, or preschool center. I may be biased, but more books in the community is simply better.

This partnership with DPIL has great potential and we look forward to seeing where it goes.

If you are interested in helping out, consider joining us for our first ever Speaker Series event O’Fallon Station on May 14. All proceeds from this event help fund our DPIL program. This is a ticketed event complete with wine, hors d’oeuvres, a guest speaker (YouTube’s The History Guy), and much more. Full event details can be found at ofpl.info/historyguy.

Lastly, if you are interested in learning more about our Friends group, the special people making all this magic happen, visit ofpl.info/friends.

Thanks for reading!

This article originally appeared in the O’Fallon Weekly.

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