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Library launch for Early Books Early Reading Jan. 25

ABOVE: Volunteers with the Old Colorado City Library's OC3 teen group joined Paula Munger Jan. 18 in placing “The Little Engine That Could” flyers in Bancroft Park to help promote the expansion to the 80904 zipcode of the Early Books Early Reading Program for which Munger is the coordinator. From left are Mackenna Triplett, Nathan Forno, Brandyn Saville, Munger, Karolina Vida and Dorina Vida. BELOW: The flyer showing the book's concluding paragraphs is posted on the tree nearest to the library.
Westside Pioneer photos
       As part of a private international effort started by entertainer Dolly Parton to inspire a love of reading in children, Early Books Early Reading (EBER) will expand into the 80904 zipcode Saturday, Jan. 25.
       The kickoff event will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Old Colorado City Library, 2418 W. Pikes Peak Ave., during which families can register children ages 0 to 4˝.
       Those who are signed up will be sent a free, “age-appropriate” book each month up to their 5th birthday, with a possible maximum total of 63 books, according to EBER President Paula Munger. The first 30 registrants Jan. 25 will receive their book that day.
       Children can also be registered through Head Start and at child-care centers and public schools, she outlined in a recent presentation to the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN).
       EBER is partnering with the national Dolly Parton Imagination Library, for which she is the Colorado Springs “champion.”
       “These are wonderful books with titles that we're all familiar with,” she said.

       While EBER is open to anyone, Munger has made a particular effort to carry the program to children who might have less exposure to reading. “EBER was created to get books into the homes of children eligible for free or reduced price lunch because nearly 50 percent were below grade level in reading at the end of third grade,” she elaborated in an e-mail. “But many indicators are seen much earlier in school by meager vocabularies and little knowledge of letters, sounds and rhyme. These children need help before school and the best source of that help is from their parents. By providing books sent to their homes and literacy training through workshops for their parents, we want to improve the literacy levels of children. EBER believes that children will be more ready to read when they enter school, and their parents will be empowered to help them.”
       An $1,800 Osborne Trust grant last year from the Garden of the Gods Rotary Club funded the EBER launch into 80904, Munger said.
       Other supporters include the Pikes Peak Library District, the Pikes Peak Library District Foundation, Pikes Peak United Way, Pikes Peak Community Foundation and Kiwanis Club.
       Starting with a Community Foundation grant, Munger previously had led the implementation of EBER in zip codes 80909, 80910 and 80916. “We have 2,270 children in the program now,” she told OWN. “We are very proactive, trying to reach as many children as we can.”
       The 80904 zipcode has about 2,500 children in the EBER-eligible age group, she said.
       Parton's personal inspiration came from visiting homes in the mid-1990s and realizing that many of them had no books, Munger said.
       To help spread the word about the 80904 launch, EBER volunteers and about members of the OC3 teen group at the Old Colorado City Library went to nearby Bancroft Park Saturday afternoon, Jan. 18 and tied yellow flyers onto trees that will stay up until the 25th. Each flyer contains a segment of "The Little Engine That Could," a book that all children in the program will receive. Starting at the first flyer in the park along Colorado Avenue (marked as "1 of 14"), people can walk from tree to tree reading the story. The end of the book ("14 of 14") is on a tree in the northwest corner of the park, nearest to the library, concluding with the little blue train puffing out the famous final words, "I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could."
       EBER welcomes donations and volunteer support from the community to help the program grow. For more information, contact the Old Colorado City Library at 634-1698 or the Pikes Peak Library District Foundation at 203-6991.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/17/14; updated 1/18/14.)

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