2013: A Year of Books

By Jeremy Park

Last week we shared more ways you can celebrate the holidays while giving back at the same time. This week let us explore an easy way we can start planning ahead to make 2013 a Year of Books by working with Shelby County Books from Birth to plant the seeds of literacy and help build a stronger foundation for our future.

Shelby County Books from Birth is a nonprofit whose mission is to bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to the residents of Shelby County. The organization secures funding to provide an age-appropriate book each month to children ages 0-5 that are registered in the program. Since their inception in 2005, more than 65,000 Shelby County children have enrolled in the program, and more than 1,000 new registrations are added each month, fueled by grassroots outreach in neighborhoods, childcare centers and literacy groups.

I think it goes without saying for readers of this column, that reading to children is of paramount importance when it comes to building vocabulary, enhancing learning, preparing them for success in school, and strengthening the bond between parent and child. The more a parent talks and reads to their baby, the faster the child will learn. In fact, the report of the Commission on Reading states “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” Reading to a child also encourages them to associate reading with love and comfort.

Providing a new book each month to children across Shelby County is a heroic feat. What is also impressive, from a business standpoint, is the cost per book is only $1. So, $12 provides books for one child for an entire year; and $60 provides books for a child for the full five years that the child is served by the program. Many families do not know that they can actually help the effort and enable the organization to reach more children by donating the $60. Either way, when it comes to making a huge difference in the life of a child, I think $12 or even $60 is a manageable amount for an individual or business to consider.

There are also a number of easy ways to help Shelby County Books from Birth through volunteerism. Volunteers are needed to follow up on voicemails, write thank you letters to donors and manage emails. They need help entering enrollees into the Imagination Library database, updating contact information for families, and coordinating with birthing centers to deliver brochures. Plenty of opportunities also exist to assist with community events and group projects.

I encourage you to learn more about Shelby County Books from Birth by visiting their website at www.booksfrombirth.org or by contacting their executive director, Peter Abell, at pabell@booksfrombirth.org or 820-4501.

Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).