The Goodyear PebbleCreek Rotary Foundation announced that it has become an official affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in an effort to promote literacy in the West Valley.
Ms. Parton started DPIL in 1995 in East Tennessee, where she is from. The program now mails 1.5 million free age-appropriate books each month to children from birth to age 5, according to a Rotary release.
“We’re excited to introduce this great program to families in the West Valley,” GYPC Rotary President Joan Smith said. “We will be working with the Head Start programs and all the libraries in Avondale, Goodyear and Litchfield Park to introduce this program to families.”
The GYPC Rotary Foundation DPIL will initially work with Dr. Betsy Hargrove, superintendent of the Avondale Elementary School District, serving children in Avondale.
“The DPIL program is such a powerful way to engage children in early literacy and language development. Research has found that early indicators of success in reading are dependent on the number of books in the home, opportunities to be read to and engage with books,” Dr. Hargrove said. “The DPIL program provides a hand-selected, age-appropriate, high-quality book each month to our children up to the age of 5, setting them up for success! We are thrilled to be included in this opportunity!”
In addition, Dr. Rachel Holmes and Professor Teresa Crosno from Estrella Mountain Community College are developing a program through their EMCC Teacher Institute to help the children improve their reading skills and provide a program for parents showing them ways to encourage their children to read, steps they can use to motivate their children and the importance of reading on a daily basis with their children, the release stated.
Fifteen families will participate in parent/child literacy opportunities two times per month from September to December, and EMCC student volunteers will provide the families with interactive, child-friendly mini-lessons on how to reinforce early literacy skills in the home.
“Kindergarten readiness and enhancing literacy in the home with parent support are the two primary goals of this program. It is our hope that this literacy program will reinforce the value of family participation in early literacy,” Dr. Holmes said.
The language and literacy skills of a number of children living in Avondale and throughout the state are significantly behind children in other states, according to the release. Only 46% of children can pass AZMerit, the third grade state literacy test.
Arizona ranks 48th in the country for early childhood education. Ninety percent of brain architecture is established by age 5, and basic neural pathways develop for language and early literacy skills in the first three years so that is why it’s so important to get as many children signed up in this program, the release stated.
The GYPC Rotary Foundation Imagination Library is free to families.
It’s been proven that reading regularly to children during their preschool years will give them a big boost toward a successful education. There are many reasons why parents do not read to their children, but this program will eliminate one of them by providing free books on a monthly basis.
As the program grows it will be available for children in Goodyear and Litchfield Park, Ms. Smith said.
“Our club is dedicated to ‘Service Above Self,’ and we partner with 1.2 million other Rotarians around the world who are committed to truth, fairness, goodwill, friendship and enriching communities,” she said.
GYPC includes neighbors, community leaders and local citizens who meet from 7 to 8 a.m. Wednesdays via Zoom, and visitors are always welcome, Ms. Smith said.
For more information about joining a meeting or joining the club, call her 623-698-0618 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a Zoom invite.
For more information about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, visit imaginationlibrary.com.