Friday, October 23rd, 2009
By William Kincaid
Funds sought for children's books
  Celina East Elementary School teachers Lore Long and Renee Kramer are leading a district and community initiative to get books into the hands of all Celina children.
"Reading is the most important thing you can be doing with your child from birth," Long said.
Research shows a child's brain develops nearly 90 percent during the first five years, according to information provided by the teachers.
East elementary, partnered with the Mercer County Civic Foundation, has become one of 1,100 international affiliates of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. Parton's organization sends new, hardback books to the children of each affiliate every month.
"They actually send the book to the child's home every month," Kramer said.
In order to do this, East elementary needs to collect a local contribution of $3,102 by this spring so the Imagination Library can begin sending the monthly books. Each year the local contribution would increase.
The average cost of books, labeling and mailing is $28 per child a year, according to a press release from Parton's organization.
Imagination Library President David Dotson, based in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., said the average cost of each book, $2.33, is so low because the organization has an exclusive agreement with Penguin Group, which provides books much lower than the market price.
Each book sent to the children would carry a retail price of as much as $10 to $15 if purchased at a store.
Also, the organization can provide such low prices because it is non-profit and Dolly Parton herself picks up all the overhead, Dotson told the newspaper.
Anyone living in the Celina school district can sign up their children, age 0-5. Names will be taken at a later date, the teachers said.
So far, East has collected around $600.
Long and Kramer are asking community members, civic organizations and other institutions to donate money. All contributions - which are tax deductible - can be sent to Mercer County Civic Foundation, P.O. Box 439, Celina, OH. 45822.
Long said contributors must write in a memo to the foundation that the money is intended for the Imagination Library.
The two also said they would be happy to give presentations to any interested group, organization or business. They can be contacted at the school.
A PowerPoint presentation is accessible at www.celinaschools.org/east/.
Each monthly book is selected by a panel of experts, who determine appropriate titles for each age. Books are published by Penguin Group.
"It's a huge program. It's a wonderful program," Long said.
Kramer and Long hope the program - now in its 13th year - will be a long-term program at Celina.
According to Dotson, Imaginary Library has sent over 23 million books to children, 6.3 million alone this year.
The organization went from serving just the children of Sevier County, Tenn. in 1996 to over half-a-million children in the U.S., Canada and U.K.

Reasons for reading:

Celina East Elementary School teachers Lore Long and Renee Kramer, who are raising funds to get books in the hands of all Celina children, says the most natural window of language development is between 3 months old and 5 years old.
According to information provided by the teachers:
• Forty percent of 8-year-old Americans cannot read independently.
• States use fourth-grade reading scores to predict how many prisons will be needed in 10 years.
• If a child isn't reading at grade level by the end of first grade, he or she has less than a one-in-eight chance to ever catch up to reading at grade level again.
• Seventy-five percent of a child's brain mass is formed by age 2.
• Studies prove that the earlier a child learns to read, the better they perform in school and later in life.
• Children from birth to age 4 have a natural inclination to learn any type of language, whether it be spoken, receptive, foreign or written.
• The environment and experiences are two major factors that contribute to learning.
• A 1997 national panel of reading specialists and early childhood educators said that most of the nation's reading problems could be eliminated if reading were taught at an earlier age.
- William Kincaid
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