County Kids Read, a project of the Written Word Committee of PEC Arts Council was established to encourage and promote literacy for at risk children and youth in The County. Presently 400 to 500 books are given out each month.
CHILDREN’S BOOK BANK
New and gently used books are donated, purchased, sorted and distributed by members of the Written Word Committee to several locations in The County:
*The Hub- Early Years Centre – several projects including Healthy Families and Babies and Beyond, a program for at risk teenage mothers
*Reaching for Rainbows – an after school program for at risk young girls
*Recreational Outreach Program
*Wellington Food Bank
*Picton Food Bank
*Children’s Aid Society
*PEC Learning Centre
When families and children visit one of these locations they are encouraged to choose a book, take it home and make it their own. Research indicates that children in lower income families have significantly fewer books in their homes than children in middle income families. Having age appropriate books in the home is critical to literacy acquisition and an appreciation of reading.
In Prince Edward County children’s literacy scores and skills are significantly below the provincial standard, as assessed by the Education Quality Assessment Office of the Ministry of Education for Ontario. The Prince Edward County Vital Signs Report 2013 indicates that 16.9% of the preschool children in the County present with low EDI (Early Development Index) in two or more domains as compared to a provincial average of 13.9%. Low EDI affects a child’s ability to reach their full potential and makes them vulnerable throughout childhood and teenage years.
PRESCRIPTION TO READ
The Well Baby Visit, at 18months of age, is an integral part of the initiative of the Ontario Ministry of Health to improve childhood experiences through collaboration with child development service and community services.
The Written Word Committee is working with all health care professionals in the County to ensure that this visit has a focus on developing life-long literacy skills. To this end, new books with a bookplate in the baby’s name and a library bookmark are given to each parent. The Physician also writes out a “Prescription to Read” which advises families to read, share books and to visit the local library.
Based on current studies reading to children and exposing them to print, at a young age, results in the development of literacy skills and reading appreciation.
For more information on these and other Prince Edward County Arts Council initiatives, visit http://www.pecartscouncil.org/