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Regional partnership puts 60 books in children's homes by the time they enter kindergarten

The Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon has partnered with local libraries, schools and community organizations to build home libraries for children across Crook and Jefferson counties, Brothers, La Pine and soon Sisters.

The project is connected to the national work of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, and organizers say the model is straightforward and effective.

Essentially, a parent can register their child by filling out an information form at multiple libraries and health centers. After they've signed up, their child will receive one book per month to own for the first five years of their lives, totaling 60 books for each child before they enter kindergarten, if signed up at birth.

"We know from research that the number of books a child has in their home significantly impacts their readiness for kindergarten and later literacy outcomes," said Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon Director Brenda Comini. "Imagination Library gets resources in the hands of families where they live, and in that way it supports the literacy work our partners are doing across multiple programs."

At the core of this work is regional partnership.

The Early Learning Hub recognizes the multitude of programs that exist in the region to support early literacy. Local libraries and programs, including Healthy Families and Public Health Home Visiting programs, SMART, Head Start, and many others are working to ensure children enter kindergarten ready to read.

Imagination Library supports that work by ensuring that when kids go home at the end of the day, they have books that continue to grow their skills. Also, parents are more likely to join the reading when books are in the home.

"We see the strong value of this program for our local families in giving them the tools they need to read with their children and support literacy from an early age. This is a win for everyone involved," said Crook County Library Director Buzzy Nielson.

The program is open to registration in Crook and Jefferson counties, Warm Springs, Brothers, La Pine and soon Sisters with more than 1,200 children enrolled since January 2018.

Organizers say the return on investment is significant, and the community has stepped up to invest.

Early investors include Prineville Kiwanis, Jefferson County Rotary, Crook County Rotary, Crook County Friends of the Library, Soroptimist International of Prineville, the Barbara Emily Knudson Foundation, and individual donors.

They welcome new partnerships to expand Imagination Library across the region. Their goal is that every child in Central Oregon enters kindergarten with the literacy supports they need to be ready to learn.

Parents can enroll through the Imagination Library website, https://imaginationlibrary.com/check-availability/, or by contacting the Early Learning Hub, 541-693-5769.

The Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon is a regional cross-sector partnership working collectively to support parents and to establish a solid foundation for children's long-term success. The Hub serves Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties and The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Their mission is to create an efficient and effective early learning system to ensure all children in Central Oregon, prenatal through age 8, receive the opportunities and supports they need to enter school healthy, prepared and ready for success.

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