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Ready, Set, Read! EPL launches new childhood literacy program

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The Edmonton Public Library has launched a new pilot program to help encourage childhood literacy in thousands of local kids.

Ready, Set, Read! will see a book sent to the home of participating children every month from the time they are born until they are five years old.

“There’s so much evidence that shows that children who know their alphabet before kindergarten and who are read to three times a week have even better reading scores up to Grade 10,” said Tina Thomas of the EPL.

“This is a really important service for the economic viability of Edmontonians and for our whole city to thrive. So we’re really focused on early literacy and allowing every child to have access to the resources, the tools, the books, the classes that they need to be successful later in life.”

As part of the pilot, 2,000 families in 13 neighbourhoods in Edmonton will be able to access the program. The library will also provide dedicated classes related to the books the children are reading at home. They also hope to follow the families after the program ends.

“We’re also looking to do some research with the U of A and MacEwan to follow some of the families that go through the program. To see how has their literacy and success in school improved because they’ve had access to a program like this,” Thomas said.

EPL has been fundraising for the project since last fall. The total cost to run the program for five years is $660,000. Thomas says they’ve raised about $600,000 so far.

She says they’re hoping to expand the program to more families if the initial pilot is successful and if the funds are available.

For more information on the program or to apply, you can visit the EPL website.

The library is partnering with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for the project. Parton, who is known for her country music and her charity work, funded the program in 1995 to help encourage early childhood literacy. 

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