Raise a Reader

  • Kathy English, Dr. Royeen and staff at the Beardstown Health Department receiving the books from the literacy committee of Alpha Phi Chapter.
  • Scott County Health Department staff check out their new books: Angela Hoots, Phyllis Jefferson, and Rachel Cooper.
  • Literacy Committee members Kathy English, Martha Houck, and Debbie Bicknell work on book orders for the year.

The local Alpha Phi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international society of women educators, recently distributed over 3500 books to health departments and hospitals in Cass, Morgan, and Scott Counties as part of their literacy outreach.

The organization has been doing literacy outreach for over twenty years through their Raise a Reader project, which they continue to grow and improve. Initially, members created a developmental calendar for baby’s first year and partnered with Passavant Hospital to distribute packets to all newborns. Packets include the calendar, baby’s first book, an immunization schedule, a brochure on screen time and young children, and a welcome greeting from the Jacksonville Public Library.

Research has shown that reading to young children is important to their success in school. Recent studies even encourage reading to children in the womb as babies respond as early as 25 weeks! As the child gets older, she has a sense of ownership and pride in having a new book of her own. The rack cards assist parents in fostering math and reading with suggestions for interactive activities for everyday use, and timelines give realistic developmental goals at age appropriate levels.

For the past four years, members have engaged in grant writing, fund raising, and seeking community donations which have enabled them to purchase and distribute books in three languages to meet the needs of our diverse populations in the tri-county area. In order to reach the earliest readers Alpha Phi has partnered with county health departments to distribute these books. Members have also developed the above-mentioned activity cards for parents of infants and preschoolers. These have been translated these into Spanish, and French as well as English.

This past year a brochure has been made available in OB offices and clinics citing the benefits of reading to baby in the womb.

Alpha Phi members wish to thank the following donors who are enabling them to help raise readers in the area: Bank of Bluffs/Meredosia Community Bank, Bound to Stay Bound, Centenary United Methodist Church, Delta Kappa Gamma International, Educational Foundation, Church Women United, Wesley Chapel, First Presbyterian Church Mission Committee, Hart Foundation, Jacksonville Pilot Club, Penelope Mitchell. Wesley Chapel, United Methodist Church Harmony Class, Mark Bicknell, Kevin and Allison Burrus, Connie Charlesworth, Don Chipman, Farmers State Bank and Trust Company, individual Alpha Phi chapter members, Lambda State Educational Foundation, DKG International Educational foundation, Trinity Episcopal Church Fellowship,Westermeyer Industries, Bluffs, and anonymous donors.

Anyone wishing to donate to this valuable project may do so. Checks should be made payable to Raise a Reader and mailed to Jean Harlow-Truesdell, 402 Westwinds, Jacksonville, Illinois.

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