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Working Together to Take Care of Our Children

I know. I know. It's hackneyed and overused, but, doggone it, sometimes it does "take a village" to get important things done. Take, for example, the absolutely essential task of making sure that all American children possess pre-reading skills before they enter kindergarten.

The children's librarians who work at the ten branches of the Springfield-Greene County Library District utilize an early literacy model developed by the American Library Association called "Every Child Ready to Read." The librarians plan and present storytimes and programs and select books, media and toys for the collection based on the six learning concepts of print motivation, letter knowledge, vocabulary, narrative skills, phonological and print awareness.

"But we can't do it all by ourselves which is why we are so grateful to bring together a private company and several nonprofits to help us reach parents and their children with Every Child Ready to Read information," said Nancee Dahms-Stinson, the library's youth services coordinator.

Target Stores provided a grant of $3,000 and the Friends of the Library chipped in $2,283. The federally funded Parent Information Resource Center, commonly called MO-PIRC in Missouri, pays the salary of a fulltime library employee whose job is to focus on early literacy.

"Our local grants are making a difference in the communities we serve," said Laysha Ward, a vice president in charge of community relations at Target. "We're proud to partner with the library as part of our ongoing commitment to give back to the communities where we live and work."

Head Start staffs in Greene County help host and coordinate Family Literacy Nights, events that "we hope will reach a total of 1,392 children and their parents and 557 families," said Dahms-Stinson.

"The Family Literacy Nights are planned to develop enthusiasm for reading and engaging in fun activities as a family. Training in early literacy activities will be provided for the parents, their child's first and best teacher, and they will leave the sessions with a tote bag filled with two books, ideas for early literacy activities they can use at home, library information and a coupon for another free book when they visit one of our libraries."

-Jeanne Duffey, Community Relations Director, Springfield-Greene County Library District.


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