Carroll County celebrates National Family Literacy Month

Thursday, November 4, 2021
Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney reads to children at the Berryville Public Library.

The Carroll County Youth Literacy Rotary Foundation (CCYLRF) is celebrating National Family Literacy Month in November.

All four mayors in Carroll County — Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney, Eureka Springs Mayor Butch Berry, Green Forest Mayor Jerry Carlton and Holiday Island Mayor Dan Kees — signed proclamations declaring November National Family Literacy Month.

Through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program, CCYLRF offers a free age-appropriate book for all Carroll County children up to age 5. The program is available for all income levels and helps families build a home library of up to 60 books. Audio and Braille titles are also available for eligible families.

Reading from an early age expands a child’s attention span, improves listening, imagination and creativity skills, opens up a dialogue between parents and children, develops early vocabulary skills and serves as a tool that can never be unlearned.

Eureka Springs Equity Bank president Elizabeth Kelley said the bank was happy to donate to the program earlier this year.

“I feel so strongly about the positive impact of reading and this program. I have seen first-hand the power of reading,” Kelley said. “Jimmy and I read to our daughters nightly starting almost at birth. Now, we are seeing the fruits of that in their grades, their scores on standardized tests and now with our oldest, the number of college acceptances and scholarships. The Imagination Library program makes this reading habit available to all families.”

Berry said he learned to love books through local libraries, starting a journey he’s still on today.

“I was able to travel around the world and see things in my mind when I was 8 or 9 years old without leaving our little town,” Berry said. “Once a child is given the gift of loving books, they will never be alone.”

To instill a love of books in your children, create a reading nook in your home and start a tradition of reading there. Be sure to explore new genres with your children — sometimes, a different topic is all it takes to get children excited about reading.

Family literacy describes parents and their children learning together. It underscores the importance of adult literacy by encouraging parents to prioritize their own education so they can be more involved in their children’s learning and literacy development.

By the age of 3, children born into low-income families have heard roughly 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers. The average child whose family is on welfare hears 616 words per hour compared with the average child in a professional family who hears 2,153 words per hour. This is important because vocabulary development during the preschool years is related to later reading skills and school success in general.

Additionally, the children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72-percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, repeat school years or even drop out. With 90 percent of welfare recipients being high school dropouts, it’s important that adults and their children improve their literacy skills together to break the cycle of poverty.

“We believe that everyone deserves an equal opportunity for a basic education. Not everyone has the money to buy books or drive to libraries,” said CCYLRF board member Peggy Lodewyks. “The sooner a child learns to read, the sooner they read to learn, then read to earn. Research has shown that children that are read to regularly prior to entering kindergarten have more success in school and beyond.”

Lodewyks continued, “We want to give the children of Carroll County that chance to succeed in life, by empowering them to dream more, learn more, care more and be more.”

Celebrate National Family Literacy Month by signing your child up for the Imagination Library program. For more information, call 479-244-9595 or visit www.ImaginationLibrary.com.

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