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Over the next several months local Head Start teachers will be giving free books to families

The NeighborImpact program believes reading skills are so important that they are distributing almost 3,000 free books to children enrolled in its Head Start Program.

Serving pre-school children in Crook, Jefferson and Deschutes counties, the program’s goal is to increase school readiness, providing children with the skills and resources they need to be successful in school. by: KEVIN SPERL/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jaenel Bermudez (LEFT), Zury Martinez, Justin Musgrave, Lakota Burkhart and Kayden Guiterrez read 'Can I Push the Button,' one of the books distributed at Prineville's Head.

“The goal is pretty simple,” said Kim Snow, associate director of Education and Quality with Head Start. “We want to get more books in the hands of families and help increase literacy so kids perform better in school.”

Donated by Toys for Tots, the books are being distributed by Head Start teachers directly to homes of the children they serve. Over 430 children are served by Head Start in 23 classrooms in Deschutes and Crook counties, with three of those classrooms serving 60 children in Prineville.

“There are families out there that can’t afford books,” explained Snow. “We’d really like to see more kids learn about science and math, so we want to provide as many books as we can," explained Snow.

Head Start is a partner with the Educational School District in Bend, which, in turn, has collaborated with the Toys for Tots free books campaign for the past six years. Over the next six months, local Head Start teachers will be delivering the free books to families, in conjunction with their spring home visit, scheduled to begin in early April.

“For children currently enrolled, they will receive one book during their spring visit, and another book as part of our end of year celebration,” said Snow. “Those returning in the fall will receive a third title as well.”

Snow’s goal is to assist local families in building libraries of books within the home, helping children become good readers that are ready to achieve success when they enroll in kindergarten.

Prineville’s Head Start is actively recruiting children for the fall term and Snow suggests that parents with pre-school children, aged 3 to 4 years, call 541-548-2381, ext. 127, or visit the program’s Web site at neighborimpact.org, to see if they qualify.

And maybe get a free book.

“The free book program is just a great avenue for supporting literacy and early reading skills,” said Snow.