Make a Difference Day promotes childhood literacy in Plain Dealing Saturday
“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” — Dr. Seuss
Who could tell a child's story better than Dr. Seuss? From the whimsical world of Whoville to the silly antics of the Cat in the Hat, the pages of a book can lead a child's imagination through a land of endless possibilities.
Local organizations teamed up to host Imagination Library at Carrie Martin Elementary School in Plain Dealing Saturday morning to promote early childhood literacy. The program, administered through the United Way of Northwest Louisiana, provides children, ages birth to five, with a free book each month.
Erin Pyles, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for United Way of Northwest Louisiana, said the Make a Difference Day event was created to spark interest in reading and to show kids how fun reading can be.
Parents and children experienced “read to me” sessions, made their own bookmarks, participated in a book walk and watch entertainment by CeCe the Clown. Children also got to select two books each from nearly 300 books given away through Imagination Library, a program founded in 1996 by legendary country music artist Dolly Parton and run by the Dollywood Foundation.
Children who registered with Imagination Library will also receive a brand new, hardcover book in the mail each month. The first book they will receive in the mail is “The Little Engine that Could,” which Pyles influenced their theme, “I think I can, I think I can...Read!”
Event sponsors hope having new books at home will lead to building better family relationships.
“Parents don't always have the money or resources to get the books or to read with their kids,” Pyles said. “We're hoping to offset some of that to allow them more time with their child, whether it's mom, dad, big brother or grandparents.”
Additionally, 50 children were selected at random to take home a new bookshelf for their books. Pyles said the children will be able to start their own library at home and grow their reading selection.
The United Way of Northwest Louisiana's overall goal with Imagination Library, Pyles said, is to simply get the young children of Plain Dealing excited about reading.
“Education is a big deal for us,” she said. “If a child is not prepared or ready to read when they get to school, it's going to hurt them in the long run if they haven't been exposed to that at home. We all want a better education for our kids.”
They also believe that children learn to read from birth to third grade then read to learn for the rest of their lives.
“We want to make sure kids are prepared to learn to better their future,” Pyles said. “We really do hope to make a difference.”
Helping out with Make a Difference Day, the nation’s largest day of volunteering, in Plain Dealing were the Altrusa Club of Bossier, the Bossier Parent Center, United Way of Northwest Louisiana, the Town of Plain Dealing, Bossier Schools, Carrie Martin Elementary, the Bossier Optimist Club, the Bossier Parish Library System and Rotary International. By working together, Pyles said they hope to enhance the education of the children in Plain Dealing and to keep building their love of reading.
As Dr. Seuss would say – “Be awesome! Be a book nut!”
For more information on Imagination Library, visit their website at www.imaginationlibrary.com