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50 sign up at library launch for Early Books Early Reading

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) expanded into the 80904 zipcode Saturday, Jan. 25.
       The kickoff event at the Old Colorado City Library attracted about 50 initial signups in all, according to Library Manager Jocelyne Sansing.
       Under the program, families living in 80904 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 60 books, according to EBER President Paula Munger. "These are wonderful books with titles that we're all familiar with," she said.
       The library is continuing to take signups, Sansing said. The address is 2418 W. Pikes Peak Ave. Children can also be registered through Head Start and at child-care centers and public schools.
       EBER is partnering with the national Dolly Parton Imagination Library, for which Munger is the Colorado Springs “champion.”

       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, signing up 2,270 children. The The 80904 zipcode is estimated to have about 2,500 children in the EBER-eligible age group.
       Parton's personal inspiration came from visiting homes in the mid-1990s and realizing that many of them had no books, Munger said.
       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 1/27/14; updated 1/29/14.)

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