00:00 AM

Community Impact: Giving Books to Build Literacy

If the volunteers of Banks County Literacy Council Inc. in Homer have their way, books given to preschoolers and help for students seeking GEDs will not only decrease illiteracy – but equip individuals with the tools they need to find good jobs and raise families from poverty.

To assist in that endeavor, the Jackson EMC Foundation in December awarded a $15,000 grant to the Banks County Literacy Council for its Imagination Library and Books-In-A-Bag programs. The donated funds will provide hundreds of books for children and GED sponsorships to students.

“When we assist our citizens with their quest to become more literate, we provide them with the resultant opportunity to raise themselves out of despair and poverty,” says Literacy Council Chairperson Mellisa Dalton. “ There is no bigger gift or better reward in a democratic society.

In partnership with the Dollywood Foundation since 2008, the Literacy Council supports the Imagination Library program, which provides 12 books a year (one each month) to preschool children. Currently, 400 children are enrolled in the program, which has graduated 350 children.

“This means that 350 children in Banks County have begun their school experience with an increased exposure to literacy activities,” according to Dalton.

A similar program, Books-In-A-Bag, aims to amplify the Literacy Council’s work with preschoolers by sending a volunteer into preschools, daycare and early learning classrooms to read books with children. Afterward, each child is given a copy of the book, along with suggestions for parents on how to share and enjoy the book with their child.

“Research is clear that parents who lack education often lack the expertise to provide literacy-rich experience for their children,” says Dalton. “In order to break this cycle, we endeavor to reach these families with knowledge and with modeling behaviors in how to provide these experiences.”

In addition, the grant money will support Banks County’s Adult Learning Center by providing funds to students who have completed work toward earning their GED but have difficulty paying to take the $160 test.

“A person lacking a high school diploma in today’s world is seriously hampered in the ability to earn a living, and obtaining the GED is hampered by the inability to afford it,” says Dalton.

The Banks County Literacy Council works to break that cycle – and to crush illiteracy and poverty by promoting reading and education.