Letter to the Editor - Literacy Volunteers of Washington

Perhaps some readers saw the recent news clips of Dolly Parton celebrating her 100 millionth free book going out to a preschool child via her Imagination Library project. She is a fantastically giving human. But I am sure not many realize that, thanks to over a decade of community support for Literacy Volunteers of Washington County, more than twelve hundred children from Washington County have participated in Dolly's wonderful early learning experience

Thanks to Literacy Volunteers of Washington County, every month an average of two hundred fifty children under five years old receive new Imagination Library books in the mail. Any child who is a resident of Washington County under five years of age is eligible to enroll in this free, wonderful program. Contact lvwcme@yahoo.com for more information.

In 2006, Literacy Volunteers of Washington County became an energetic partner with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in an effort to address local generational low literacy. According to 2000 census literacy statistics, 38% of Washington County adults do not read with comprehension beyond the fifth grade level in comparison with 24% of English speaking Americans nationwide. Recent indicators suggest the situation may be worsening thanks to technological screen time difficulties.

Putting books in the hands of infants and pre-schoolers, many being raised by parents with limited literacy skills, only made sense when Lit Vol was first confronted with the daunting task of spreading the gospel of literacy's importance in any sustainable society. As with any skill, reading must be practiced to become a proficiency and the earlier one begins to practice the better. A serendipitous listening to a CBC announcement of Dolly's initial expansion of the Imagination Library beyond United States borders presented LVWC with the obvious answer to an obvious need. Life just works out sometimes.

Thanks to their participation in the Imagination Library, a generation of Washington County children has entered kindergarten knowledgeable of the magic of words, ready and eager to learn. And the reading skills of many parents improved in the process. Reading ignites intellectual creativity at any age.

Washington County, Maine is the only New England county where this opportunity is offered to their children. Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and the Alaskan Yukon all support this program through their state's educational funding. Imagine if every child in Maine was as lucky as our local kids! This is Lit Vol's vision, dream and hope as the political eye begins to truly recognize our state's dire early childhood educational needs.

In addition, Lit Vol Wash Co holds regularly scheduled training for anyone interested in becoming a reading tutor of adults. Our next six week training workshop will be held 1-4 pm at the Calais Free Library beginning April 7, 2018. Please contact lvwcme@yahoo.com for more information or to register. There is no charge for this workshop.

Our motto is Literacy = Sustainability. Spread the word! Thanks!

Literacy Volunteers 

of Washington