Letter – Literacy program tops 25k books

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

“The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.” – National Commission on Reading.

Since its inception in 2016, the Food For Thought (FFT) Literacy Initiative at the Isle of Wight Christian Outreach Program (COP) has distributed over 25,000 new and gently read children’s books throughout the county to hundreds of its clients’ children and grandchildren. The FFT volunteers also encourage the establishment of home libraries and daily reading.

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Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during regular food and diaper distributions at COP, books are provided for children birth through middle school. In addition, FFT volunteer Cheryl Rowlands regularly stocks 12 Little Lending Libraries scattered throughout the county in areas near the COP clients’ residences.

We have developed valuable literacy partnerships with the Isle of Wight Department of Social Services and the Western Tidewater Infant and Toddler Program by providing books for service coordinators to model reading and leave on home visits for the establishment of children’s home libraries, thus enabling easy access for daily reading.

In partnership with the Smithfield Library, FFT introduced the My Book Club program last year to provide monthly books for the children enrolled in Isle of Wight Public Schools’ five pre-kindergarten programs. The dedicated Pre-K teachers share the books and develop lessons for the children and then give the books to the children to take home for their home libraries and daily reading. Terry Andrews, Smithfield Library Manager, develops Parent Reading Tips sheets for each book.

New and gently read book donations from community literacy friends have boosted the program’s ability to expand, for which we are very appreciative. Donations of children’s books for birth through middle school can be delivered to COP on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Thank you for helping us empower Isle of Wight children through literacy!


Beth Butner


Food For Thought Literacy Initiative

Isle of Wight Christian Outreach Program