Children get early access to books

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The single most significant factor influencing a child’s educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school!

In middle-income communities, the ratio of age-appropriate books per child is 13 to 1; however, in low-income communities that ratio is drastically reduced to one age-appropriate book for every 300 children. The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of children living in low income homes is to increase their print accessibility.

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The Food For Thought (FFT) Literacy Initiative at the Christian Outreach Program (COP) in Isle of Wight was established in 2016 and is committed to providing new and gently read books to its food clients and encouraging them to read daily with their children/grandchildren as well as establishing home libraries. The FFT literacy volunteers are continually accepting, bagging to satisfy coronavirus restrictions and distributing children’s books and encouragement to the COP food clients.

A heartfelt thank you to our generous countywide literacy partners (individuals, schools, churches, social/civic groups) who realize the importance of literacy and have provided us with new and gently read books for ages birth through middle school. We could not empower the hundreds of children we serve without you. Many donors remain anonymous, so this letter is written especially to thank you for your thoughtful generosity.

FFT has begun a second community literacy initiative by installing Little Lending Libraries and stocking them with books in communities served by COP. Each library is supervised by a community librarian who encourages residents to borrow, enjoy, and return the books for others to read.

Cheryl Rowlands is the FFT Lead on this exciting new literacy project. Making books easily accessible and encouraging reading is FFT’s mission for Isle of Wight children living in low-income homes.

A very special thank you to the following literacy volunteers who make the time to greet our clients and offer children’s books and encouragement to read: Kim Norman, Kirstin Cook, Pam Saunders, Jackie VanBuren, Cheryl Rowlands and Nancy Ohanian. Also, sincere appreciation goes to the COP Board and staff for their continued support of FFT. Your encouragement enriches our efforts.

New and gently read children’s books for birth through age 12 can be delivered to COP on Grace Street on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Books also can be taken to the Isle of Wight Museum. Please leave your name and contact email/address on paper so that we can personally thank you for your thoughtful generosity.


Beth W. Butner


Food For Thought Literacy

Christian Outreach Program