November 19, 2010

Program sets sights on family literacy

Program sets sights on family literacy

Books from Birth of Middle Tennessee is expanding its family literacy program to teach parents and children a new way to read the free Imagination Library books they receive in the mail each month.

Books from Birth's family literacy program uses a “picture reading” method, which encourages parents and children to look at pictures in a book and talk about what they see. The method promotes interaction, dialogue and imagination to build a child's vocabulary.

With a $100,000 grant from Dollar General, the family literacy program will expand its operation further across the state. Since June 2010, more than 900 families have attended the training, which represents more than 3,400 children benefiting from this program, which will start its second year in January.

“We can mail books to children all day long but if they are not being used, they are just not as important,” said Heather Smith, manager of the family literacy program for Books from Birth. “Through our training, we can teach parents and children a new way to read that will have a lasting impact on their child's reading ability and their future success in school.”

The program also provides more than 100 different reading activity sheets for parents to use with the Imagination Library Books with their children.

“This program continues to succeed in encouraging families to read together while giving parents extra tools for teaching their young children to read,” says Denine Torr, Dollar General's director of community initiatives.

Dollar General also provided the first-year funding, $97,000, to start the literacy project.

More than 36,000 children are enrolled in Books from Birth of Middle Tennessee, an early literacy initiative of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt that oversees Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in Davidson, Sumner and Williamson counties. Children receive a free, age-appropriate book every month from birth to age 5.

To learn more about the literacy program, visit or call 936-7393.