Over the past month Best Beginnings has sent over 1,200 books to the homes of 100 children living in areas of Alaska where there is currently no Imagination Library program. While Alaska has one of the highest rates of enrollment in Imagination Library nationwide, we know that there are still over 7,300 Alaska children living in communities where no program exists. We are on a mission to change that!
Starting and sustaining an Imagination Library is tough work. It takes a lot – a group of volunteers committed to enrolling children, running the program, and perhaps hardest of all, finding the money to pay for all the books to the tune of $30 per child per year. That may not sound like a lot to you and me, but when you’re talking about supporting a community where just 100 babies are born a year, suddenly you’re looking at a commitment of $15,000 to pay for just those children alone for the next 5 years, and that’s before the next year’s babies are born. It takes time and resources to build that kind of program from the ground up, even with our help. And in the meantime a whole generation of young children is growing each and every day with limited access to high-quality books in communities across Alaska. Those children need our help today. That’s where the Book Bundle project comes in.
Using books returned as undeliverable from Anchorage Imagination Library, volunteers and staff packaged and mailed Book Bundles directly to children in far-reaching communities. Families who live in an eligible area can sign up to receive their very own Book Bundle. Staff reviews each submission to see which age group the child falls into to select about a dozen age-appropriate books from the book room for their bundle, and adds activity guides tailored to the child’s age and family’s preferred language. Parents are also added to our weekly parent e-newsletter where they receive even more great tips and resources they can use in their community to enhance and support their child’s literacy and early learning.
By this time next year we hope to send at least 500 more Book Bundles! And just maybe, the joy this little box of books brings to a child will inspire someone to start their own Imagination Library in their community. About a month after a child receives a Book Bundle Best Beginnings will reach out to their family to encourage them to start an Imagination Library. Wouldn’t it be great if Imagination Library was available in every Alaska community?
The truth is though – even if we can’t make that happen – we know that this project is changing lives for the better.
We recently asked a parent what they’ve learned since participating in Imagination Library. Their answer? “That someone cares about me and my child in a tangible way.” It was a beautiful reminder that the work we do together, matters. Imagine what our state would look like in ten years, if we could give that very same feeling of love and support to every Alaska parent navigating the challenges of parenthood, today.
Communities served by the Book Bundle project as of May 2019:
St. Paul Island
This project was made possible by a grant from Rasmuson Foundation and the support of many individual donors to Best Beginnings. Donate today to join them in getting more books in the hands of children. Thank you for your commitment to growing readers and strengthening families in Alaska!