EAU CLAIRE, Wisconsin (WEAU) – Reading is one of the most important things anyone can do with their young children. However, for some families, it can be too expensive to buy books and difficult to find a library. A program new to Eau Claire and Dunn Counties hopes to change that.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is now open to families across the two counties. With funding from the Pablo Foundation, families with children under the age of 5 can enroll through Eau Claire’s Family Resource Center and receive a free book in the mail each month.
Nicole Johnson enrolled her twins in Wednesday’s program.
“They love to read. It’s such a fun thing to do with them,” she said.
As the boys approach their first birthdays, Johnson said it’s difficult to get into a library or bookstore, let alone know what’s age-appropriate.
That’s why Eau Claire’s mom said she’s happy to receive a free textbook every month.
“The fact that it’s being delivered will make my life easier,” Johnson said.
Jennifer Eddy is the Executive Director of Eau Claire’s Family Resource Center. She believes putting books in the hands of young children is a game changer.
“The more kids read when they’re little, the more successful they’ll be as adults,” she said. “And the most important thing parents can do is read with their preschoolers.”
Johnson said she sees this firsthand with her boys reading.
“You interact with them and they can also get involved. So you’re talking about the story, you’re not just reading it, right. You talk about it, you point to the pictures and pretty soon they get excited and try to talk about it and point to the pictures and I just think it’s a great way to teach them, a great way to learn.” said Johnson.
“Ninety percent of brain development occurs by age 5, and most of it by age 3. So what we do when our kids are very little, whether we sing to them, play with them, make them happy, read to them, really kindly change their brains for the rest of their lives in a positive way,” Eddy said.
After the child’s fifth birthday, families no longer receive books.
Eddy said in addition to the age-appropriate books, two are bilingual each year, in both Spanish and English.
While funds last, the program is open to anyone living in Eau Claire or Dunn counties, regardless of income level.
Individuals interested in enrolling in the program will receive more information here. You can also visit Eau Claire’s Family Resource Center at Oakwood Mall.
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