Imagination Library offers free books for kids birth to fiveLake Stevens Education Foundation receives grant BY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR The Lake Stevens Education Foundation (LSEF) has teamed up with the “big guys” to bring free books to kids from birth to five years old. LSEF, along with The United Way, the Boeing Company and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program are working together to put books in the hands of infants and toddlers in an effort to prepare them for kindergarten and to encourage parents to ‘Read to your child 20 minutes a day from birth on’.
Through the LSEF’s Academic Beginnings for Children, or ABC, much effort has been made throughout the Lake Stevens community to promote early childhood development through reading. ABC supports parents, child-care givers and teachers of children birth to five years to ensure that kids will start Kindergarten with the necessary skills to be successful. Statistics show that 50 percent of children entering Kindergarten are not ready.
“It’s going to make a huge difference in our schools to have the children ready for Kindergarten when they enter the doors,” Terri Spencer, President of Lake Stevens Education Foundation said.
Imagination Library is an important step in getting them prepared.
In 1996, Dolly Parton launched Imagination Library by mailing a brand new, age appropriate book each month to every child under five in her home county. A few years later, she decided to open the program up to any community.
Through the grant money received from Boeing, LSEF will soon be offering this same opportunity for the children within the Lake Stevens School District boundaries.
On June 30 at the Lake Stevens Senior/Community Center (next to the Library), the LSEF will have a kick-off celebration where parents can sign-up their kids to receive a free, age-appropriate book, each and every month until they turn five years old. The kick-off will include entertainment by Cyndi Soup and a free book, donated by Borders Books in the Everett Mall, to every child who signs up.
“This program is an affirmation to our community of what we are doing within the community,” Spencer said. “It will make a lifelong impact.”
The first book each child will receive is The Little Engine that Could and the last book will be Miss Bindergarten Get Ready for Kindergarten! with a library of other popular books in between.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to see kids have quality books that will create that love of reading and bring them to school ready to be successful,” Leslie Elsemore, Vice-President of Lake Stevens Education Foundation and Chairperson for the LSEF’s Academic Beginnings for Children said.
Elsemore, a retired Kindergarten teacher, explains the importance of starting Kindergarten prepared to learn.
“You never catch up, it’s better to be ready when kids start Kindergarten,” she said. “It is more than academics, it’s social and emotional too. It can effect every part of their lives by being successful.”
Parents are the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to early childhood learning.
“It is important that parents realize they are their child’s first and most important teacher,” Elsemore said.
The grant money supplied by the Boeing Company will provide books for 300 children within the Lake Stevens School District boundaries and the LSEF is looking for donations to support books for another 400 children. So far, Lake Stevens/Granite Falls Rotary has committed one thousand dollars. LSEF is still visiting other organizations to promote their efforts.
Donations will be accepted from anyone who is willing to sponsor a child. The cost is $27 per child, per year. Giving Envelopes will be provided at the kick-off or through United Way of Snohomish County.