JOPLIN, MO.--- According to Missouri state statistics, more than half of Jasper County children are not prepared for kindergarten in language and literacy skills.
"The earlier you can get kids interested in and enjoying reading and books, even if it's just that they're going to play with a board book, then the more success they will have during school and in life," said Cari Rerat, Joplin Public Library Teen Librarian.
The United Way, Leadership Joplin, and the Joplin Public Library are partnering together for the little blue bookshelf project. The shelves are stocked with new or gently used books for early childhood to third grade readers.
"The fact that they have the opportunity now to start that learning earlier, to understand how to read and learn to read. Especially, for the parents on how to read to them, is a home run for us," Donovan Edwards, Leadership Joplin Student.
The books are for children who are experiencing trauma or crisis in their lives. When visiting the shelves, children can either look at, keep, or share the books. Organizers hope the program will also increase book ownership within families, encourage adults to read to children, and keep the community involved with book donations.
"Knowing that we are helping adults as they help their families is a good feeling," said Joan Doner, Joplin NAYLA Read Program Coordinator.
Roughly 1,500 books will be distributed to 10 community locations tomorrow. To find out where those are, click here.
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