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The Baxter County Early Literacy Project recently reported outstanding year-end numbers for the Little Free Library program. In 2021, a total of 1,601 children’s books were distributed free of charge through the Project’s bright yellow little libraries strategically placed throughout Baxter County. A collaboration between the Baxter County Library, Mountain Home, Cotter, and Norfork School Districts, BRMC Schliemann Center for Women’s Health Education, ASUMH, and other early literacy advocates, the Baxter County Early Literacy Project has distributed over 4,000 free books to Baxter County children since its inception.
The mission of the Early Literacy Project is to equip all Baxter County children with the early literacy skills they need to be prepared to enter Kindergarten. By getting books into the hands of parents, promoting the importance of early literacy, instilling the practice of reading aloud into the family culture, and increasing awareness of Arkansas Child Development and Early Learning Standards. Early literacy is what children know about reading before they learn to read. It is not teaching reading. Instead, it is laying the foundation so that your child has the necessary skills when they are developmentally ready to read.
Current Early Literacy Project programs include the Little Free Libraries, Dolly Parton Imagination Library, and 1000 Books Before Kindergarten programs. The Little Free Libraries are stocked with children’s books you can get for free and read with your child. There are 7 of them located in Baxter County. Look for the bright yellow little libraries at Cooper Park in Mountain Home, Quail Run/Meadow Park Apartments in Mountain Home, Mountain Home Kindergarten, Gassville City Park, Norfork Head Start, Big Spring Park in Cotter, and Mountain Station Apartments in Mountain Home.
The Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails one free, high-quality book per month to children from birth until their 5th birthday, no matter their family’s income. Thanks to some generous donations, this program is available to children in Baxter County!
The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program engages parents in a commitment to read 1000 books to their child before the child enters Kindergarten. Reading aloud to your child is the single most important activity you can do to prepare your child to learn to read. Research by Mem Fox, literacy expert, and children’s author, concludes that 1000 stories read aloud is a critical milestone.
The project volunteers also set up pop-up booths at local events throughout the year to reach parents and create awareness for the program.
The Little Free Library program is always in need of new or gently used children’s books, especially board books for ages 0 – 5 years old, as well as monetary donations to purchase books. Visit baxlib.org for more information.