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Book program campaign ongoing

Becky Vargo • May 8, 2017 at 10:00 AM

More than 3,000 children in more than 1,400 families are receiving free books as part of an early childhood literacy program initiated just over a year ago in the Tri-Cities, according to local author Jan Hasselbring, coordinator of the program.

Tri-Cities Area Imagination Library is an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library — a program that supplies a free book each month to every child registered, up to 5 years old.

“Dolly sees that literacy is a bridge from misery to hope,” Hasselbring told Counterpart members during a recent presentation.

Hasselbring cited statistics that note a child’s brain grows to more than 90 percent of its potential by the time they are age 3. She also said that states plan the number of jail cells they’ll need based on the amount of children not reading by the end of third grade.

As a longtime local educator, Hasselbring saw the difference it made in children’s lives if they were already reading — or ready to read — by the time they were in kindergarten.

If a child can’t read when they get to school, she said they’ll get more and more behind.

“It’s very hard to catch up,” she said.

Hasselbring said it costs $2 per book — including postage — to get it into the hands of a child.

The local organization is campaigning to raise money to keep the child currently registered in books, as well as allow them to keep registering more children.

The goal is to have funds for at least a year, Hasselbring said.

A $25 gift will fund one child for a year.

Anyone interested in helping may send a donation to the Tri-Cities Area Imagination Library at T.A.I.L., Box 312, Ferrysburg, MI 49409. Include an email address for a tax receipt.

Registrations are available to children living in the Grand Haven and Spring Lake school districts.

For more information, email janhasselbring@yahoo.com or beverlyvankampen@sbcglobal.net.

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