Preschool children will have their own Winter Holiday Library thanks to United Way’s Success By 6 initiative. Three times a year – At the start of school, before the summer holidays and right before the winter holiday – Success By 6 fills book bags with sets of five unique books that are then sent out to the program’s classrooms across Central Alabama.
This December, volunteers and United Way employees helped pack book bags for 24 classrooms throughout the region. This program wouldn’t be possible without the support of members of the community. Organizations like the Birmingham Rotary Club and the Walker County Community Foundation generously provide donations to help ensure that the children in their communities always have opportunities for learning.
New Beginnings Day Care in North Birmingham receives books for 16 children ages 3-5. “I just love building the student’s home libraries,” says director Tonya Wilson. “In addition to building their sight recognition skills we also have more parent involvement in their reading.” Wilson says she gives homework reading assignments from the books she receives.
Research shows that having books in the home has a huge effect on academic achievement, particularly for children from low income homes. A 2014 study conducted by researchers at the University of Nevada found that the presence of books in the home improve test scores. Furthermore, they found that regardless of how many books the family already has, each addition to the home library helps children do better on reading tests.
Success By 6 supports a “whole child” approach to education, one that focuses both on cognitive skills as well as the child’s social and emotional development. The books chosen for the children reflect that commitment, and usually have a themes around math or language. This year, classrooms will be receiving a bilingual version of “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” that can be read in both English and Spanish. The other titles included in December’s book bags are “Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar,” “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?” and “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.”
Success By 6 promotes “best practice” quality early learning standards in 50 Pre-K classrooms each year. With skilled School Readiness Specialists, children in the classrooms are assessed and evaluated, and these teachers receive side-by-side technical assistance and professional development training throughout the school year.