Everyone thinks that their child is amazing, gifted and the best. As I stood at the Reception House for the Imagination Library Progressive Dinner last spring, I had all of those thoughts. Watching my 6 year old daughter stand high above the crowd, mostly so that they could see her, I could not have been more proud. She was nervous, I could tell, but as she started to read, those emotional, proud mom tears started to well up in my eyes. Reading aloud in front of 130 people would frighten most adults. To see my little girl look out at the smiling faces of the attendees of the event was something I will never forget.
Because of programs such as Imagination Library, Vivian was more than ready to enter kindergarten as a prepared learner. She was enrolled as soon as she was born and we started reading to her immediately. Through the partnership of The Dollywood Foundation and United Way of Central Minnesota, more than 7,000 children throughout Central Minnesota are fortunate enough to receive a free, age appropriate book in the mail every month. These books are high quality and not only assist with literacy skills, most books come with a very important moral or lesson. These books also come with questions and conversation starters to move beyond the book and allow additional bonding and relationship building time. With 90% of brain development happening before age 5, taking just an extra moment can make a huge impact.
Since Imagination Library only goes until a child’s fifth birthday, a wonderful place to continue fostering your child’s love of reading is exploring your public library. Most libraries have story times, children’s programing, crafts and much more. These activities are great a way to incorporate reading into a daily routine and find new and exciting ways to enjoy reading as a family.
Annually, as a way to celebrate families and literacy, the Llama Llama Read-A-Rama Pajama Party is held at the St. Cloud Public Library. This free family event allows children and parents or guardians to experience live llamas, K9 Units, firetrucks and SWAT vehicles. And that is just outside! Upon entering the library, families can see local mascots, participate in craft and snack time, as well as enjoy local celebrities reading at story time. It is a night of excitement, enjoyment and memories to last a lifetime.
As we start I Love To Read Month, I am reminded of the events and programs that got my child, along with thousands of local children, prepared for success as they enter school. Not every child will be comfortable with reading aloud in front of a large group, but because of Imagination Library and our focus on early literacy, Central Minnesota’s children will be better prepared to learn and succeed in life.
Written By: Alexis Lutgen, Community Impact Coordinator