Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

April 29, 2013

A decade of books for children

SUMMIT — Every one of the 140 preschoolers sitting on the floor in their pajamas knew the words to “Five Little Monkeys” by heart, and proved it by reciting lines from the book in unison, at the top of their lungs.

That didn’t make them any less excited to receive their own personal copies of the children’s favorite Thursday morning at the Boyd County Early Learning Center.

The children also got four other books apiece, which meant they went home that day with the beginnings of a personal library of stories, nursery rhymes and alphabet books.

Every volume was personalized with the child’s name on a bookplate, and what made it special was that the books were brand new: not a scuff on the cover, not a dog-eared page in the lot.

The children received the books free, courtesy of the First Book program, which for nearly 10 years has been putting books in the hands of children and introducing them to the joys of reading.

In that time First Book has distributed more than 80,000 books to some 900 children in Head Start and preschool programs in the three school districts in Boyd County.

Looking back on the first decade, First Book advisory board chairman Bill Burch reflected Thursday on building the program and maintaining it for a second 10 years.

Burch, a former principal in the Ashland district, organized the board in 2004 after learning about and researching the national First Book program.

He had read reports of a truckload delivery of books to children in Harlan County and what struck him, as a retired educator, was the need for more children to have their own books.

Research shows that high percentages of children from low income families don’t have books in their homes, Burch said. “The mission of First Book is to get books in the hands of our most needy children,” he said.

It does so by forming local advisory boards that raise money to buy books, and scouts out supplies of books at lower than usual prices.

The books are age-appropriate and titles are chosen by the teachers. For instance, Head Start teacher Karla Conrad chose, among others, “Animal Alphabet,” an alphabet picture book in the “Little Einstein” series, based on what she knows about her pupils.

“At this age they like real pictures,” Conrad said. She was referring to the profuse selection of photographs that illustrate the book. “And the kids love animals and the ‘Little Einstein’ books.”

She chose some books the children already can read by themselves, or at least, in the case of “Five Little Monkeys,” recite the words they know by heart. That puts them in tune with the rhythm of the words and the shapes of the letters, she said.

It was the first distribution for children at the Summit center, which previously had gotten books through another grant. That grant expired, however, and First Book filled the gap.

The books weren’t absolutely free to the center, but it paid pennies on the dollar based on the retail value, according to director Jennifer Watts.

The local First Book board typically raises $10,000 to $12,000 per year, which is enough for about 5,000 books.

In an era of scaled-back giving, Burch said he will be happy if  he can maintain the program at its current level. “We want to encourage kids to read and to learn to love reading. We want them to take books home and read to their brothers and sisters, their parents and their grandparents,” he said.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Families invited for Fun in the Park

     Free cotton candy, hot dogs and entertainment for an entire day is what Bridges Christian Church in Russell is offering local families during Fun in the Park this weekend.
     

    August 1, 2014

  • AEP reports stolen copper, fence damage

     All that glitters is not gold — sometimes, it's also copper.
     

    August 1, 2014

  • Probe of Fairview begins

    Four investigators from the state Office of Education Accountability spent much of Thursday interviewing school officials in a probe of alleged school law violations in the Fairview Independent School District.

    July 31, 2014

  • Grant helps Elliott County High School with $1.7 million geothermal renovation

    Elliott County School District Superintendent Dr. Carl Potter II remembers the night a few years ago when the lights went out in the middle of an Elliott County boys basketball game and interrupted it for some 20 minutes while the lights powered up.

    July 31, 2014

  • Heroin overdose deaths continue to rise

    The Kentucky state legislature passed a sweeping overhaul to its prescription drug law in the summer of 2012 after a flood of overdose deaths, making it significantly harder for people to access dangerous addictive drugs from doctors.

    July 31, 2014

  • Morehead man faces drug charges

    A Morehead man is facing multiple drug charges after taking possession of a suspicious package mailed to his home on Dillon Lane, according to the Kentucky State Police.

    July 31, 2014

  • Highlands’ Artists Market to begin today

    Up-and-coming artists are being offered a rare chance to show and sell their work during the First Friday art walk.

    July 31, 2014

  • Dogonline.jpg 'Educate and entertain'

    A local theater group is shooting for changing the area’s theater scene.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 07/31/2014 — What's Happening

    Local news

    July 31, 2014

  • News in brief, 07/31/14

    About 450 marijuana plants were confiscated during an eradication effort in Lawrence County on Tuesday.

    July 30, 2014