Early childhood literacy program offers free books

Krystle Wagner • Nov 28, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Grand Haven and Spring Lake children from birth to age 5 have a chance to receive free monthly books.

A non-profit group called Tri-Cities Area Imagination Library (T.A.I.L.) will register families from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, at Loutit District Library in Grand Haven. The local program is an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, an early childhood literacy initiative.

There will also be activities and food for people as they register.

Families can also register online by at https://imaginationlibrary.com/  — and search for the local affiliate.

According to the program’s main website, more than 918,000 children are registered throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. There are 33 affiliate programs in Michigan.

Janet Hasselbring, board president for T.A.I.L., said that reading to young children “supports essential brain development, as well as strengthens literacy and language skills.” She said about 90 percent of a person’s brain growth is done in his or her first three years.

“We are shaped by what we reach and do as children, so the Imagination Library can play a crucial role in development of healthy, literate children — and, thus, a healthy, literate society,” she said.

While the books are available for all children, Hasselbring said the group is also trying to reach the 6,500 local families considered at-risk.

Hasselbring said the group hopes the children receiving the books will gain confidence to do well in school.

Books are delivered to the children’s homes in their names as gifts, and Hasselbring said the books are also a gift to the community because communities are only as strong as their weakest member.

Some of the book titles include “Corduroy,” “Little Poems for Tiny Ears,” “Madeline,” “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” and “Owl Moon.”

T.A.I.L. is also partnering with R.E.A.D. Ottawa to work with helping adults become literate.

The North Ottawa Community Health System is also distributing brochures and helping new mothers register their children for the program, Hasselbring said.

“We’re making a concerted effort toward literacy,” Hasselbring said.

As an affiliate, T.A.I.L. is responsible for funding the cost of books distributed locally, manage the database of local families and get children registered. 

It takes $25 to provide books for one child for a year, Hasselbring said. Monetary contributions can be mailed to T.A.I.L., P.O. Box 312, Ferrysburg, MI 49409.

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