Reading program brings more books into Oceana homes.

April 4, 2018

A 6-month-old at a local home day care in Shelby explores his new book about emotions, mirroring the expression of the baby in the book.

Reading program brings more books into Oceana homes.

#ReadEarlyReadOften

In Oceana County, 62.3 percent of third graders are non-proficient in English language arts, ranking the county 75th out of 83 counties in Michigan.

Incidentally, the number of books in a child’s home has shown to be as impactful on a child’s educational attainment as the education level of her parents. This is the niche where Read Early, Read Often (RERO) strives to make an impact.

The RERO program is focused on changing the reading culture of families with little ones in our county through book procurement, distribution and reading advocacy. With a wide variety of partners including local food pantries and churches, non-profit and governmental agencies, and community event organizers, RERO distributes free children’s books to children 0-5 years of age (over 1,100 books since the beginning of 2018 alone).

RERO is not alone in these efforts to improve early literacy rates. United Way of the Lakeshore is promoting the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, where children can receive a free book mailed monthly to their home. Great Start Collaborative and Northwest MI Health Services are also supporting a bilingual literacy coach and bi-weekly Literacy Night events.

Community partners are beginning to notice a culture shift, as noted by Tina Wiegand. “I have been working as a maternal-child social worker for District Health Department for 20 years,” Wiegand said. “We have been able to give away books sporadically over the years and the kids and parents have always loved them. Recently, in the last six months, I have noticed more books in my client homes than ever before. They are finally becoming part of the toy box in our county! I think having a consistent, community-wide program around for years, instead of months, is making a big difference.”

The Community Foundation for Oceana County provides leadership for the program, hosting an Americorps VISTA member, Danielle Siegel, to lead RERO efforts. Most recently those efforts have included an annual book drive, book distribution at village Easter Egg hunts and the beginning of book distribution to area child care providers.

Members of the Community Foundation for Oceana County’s Youth Advisory Council led the efforts to organize the second annual used book drive which took place across Oceana County. Community response was excellent with over 350 books to be redistributed throughout Oceana County.

RERO also partnered with community event organizers, such as last week’s Easter egg hunts in Walkerville, Pentwater, Hart, Shelby, Ferry and Rothbury. With the help of event partners and RERO’s wonderful volunteers, young children were able to take home a new book with their Easter goodies. “Partnering with area events provides a perfect opportunity to reach little ones all over the county as these children are already coming out for a fun day with their families,” said Siegel.

RERO is also proud to supply children’s books to local child care providers in Oceana County. If you or someone you know provides in-home child care services, you can reach out to Siegel to find out how you can get free books for your daycare by calling 231-220-4416 or e-mailing [email protected] More information about the RERO program can be found at http://www.oceana-foundation.org/community-impact/read-early-read-often or by following the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/readoceana.

The Community Foundation for Oceana County’s Youth Advisory Council organized a county-wide book drive bringing in over 350 gently used books for redistribution throughout Oceana County.

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