There are many factors that influence overall life success, but key to them all is one simple skill: reading. A person’s ability to read and comprehend what they read influences every aspect of their life and future potential. We know, for example, that if a child isn’t reading at or above grade level by third grade, they are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their reading-proficient peers.
Because from kindergarten through second grade, children are learning to read. From third grade up, they’re reading to learn. If they haven’t mastered the skill by then, they are less able to absorb other subjects like history, math and science. Literacy goes on to positively or negatively affect future opportunities, income earning potential, health, and the success of our communities.
Furthermore, reading boosts intelligence, increases empathy, expands vocabulary, improves memory, develops analytical thinking skills, and improves focus and concentration. Recreational reading both alleviates stress and creates new experiences, taking the reader around the world in the blink of an eye. Reading allows us to imagine beyond current reality, showing us the impossible is within reach. It’s much more than just words on paper. Reading ignites the fire of curiosity and feeds the flame of wonder.
That’s why local organizations are teaming up to promote reading and enhance literacy here in Lewis County. Timberland Library, Twin Transit, and Shakespeare & Company are partnering to create free libraries on every bus. The Books on the Bus program includes books for children, teens and adults across a variety of genres. Anyone can borrow the books, read them at their leisure, and return them to the bus when they’re done.
This program also makes quality books more available to high school and middle school students who use Twin Transit’s new Student Bus Pass Program to ride the bus home, to after-school jobs, local internships, Centralia College or Centralia Beauty College.
This dovetails perfectly with United Way and Rotary’s momentous launch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program here in Lewis County. This remarkable initiative provides children under the age of five with a new book every single month.
My children participated in this program when they were little, and I still remember their excitement every time a new book arrived in the mail. They couldn’t wait to read it! We still have many of those books on our shelf today, now dog-eared from extensive use. They created some of our family’s favorite memories, snuggled up on the couch exploring the exciting world of Ladybug Girl, learning tips from Officer Buckle and Gloria, or experiencing the harmonious wonder of Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.
This program is an extraordinary gift to the children of Lewis County. To sign up, simply visit lewiscountyuw.com/content/imagination-library.
Partnerships like these are a powerful force for good in our community. Individually we can do a lot; together, we can change the world.