Give the gift of literacy to Vancouver Island Children

Every night, Nicole Benson sits down to read a bedtime story to her son Everett, age 3. This daily routine stimulates his imagination and expands his understanding of the world around him. It also develops Everett’s language and listening skills and prepares him to understand the written word. All are important building blocks to better prepare him for Kindergarten.

“We started reading to Everett very early. Even though he couldn’t necessarily understand the story it was a special time to bond, snuggle and be together,” said Benson. “Because reading has been a part of our daily life from the beginning he now loves and expects to read books. He now asks to read throughout the day, not just during his bedtime routine. I’ve noticed he’ll request a book when he needs a quiet moment after a busy activity or an overstimulating event.”

There are countless studies that show children who are read to and develop a love of books at an early age are at a significant advantage as they enter school and hold the keys to a lifetime of possibilities and reduced poverty.

Currently, 1 in 3 children in the CRD is considered developmentally vulnerable by the time they go to school. Reading age-appropriate books with children increases kindergarten readiness by almost 30 percent.

As we head into the fall, every parent knows the uncertainty to education COVID-19 has caused. No one wants their child to fall behind in their learning because they lack access to literacy programs, daycare programs, or school programs.

United Way believes that today’s children are tomorrow’s community leaders. Early childhood literacy is essential in growing healthy minds which is why one of United Way Greater Victoria’s goals is to increase children’s literacy in the CRD by investing in childhood reading programs like the Imagination Library.

The Imagination Library is a free book gifting program devoted to inspiring a love of reading in the hearts of children everywhere. Each month, enrolled children receive a high quality, age-appropriate book in the mail, free of charge. Children receive books from birth age five.

“This program is an opportunity for every child to be exposed to books and stories. We know that literacy is a major component in successful adults and starting young is key,” said Benson. “Not to mention, getting a special delivery in the mail just for them is a fun way for a young child to be excited about reading.”

United Way’s goal is to increase literacy and skills for children under the age of 5 in the CRD over the next three years through partnerships with agencies that support the early years and family programs in our region. Your donations can help share the joy of literacy with children and grow healthy minds.

“My family is grateful to have taken advantage of this amazing program that was offered to all children in the Yukon. On Vancouver Island, there are many families that cannot afford books. This program would allow those families to make reading a special time while giving those children the advantage of literacy,” said Benson. “The delight in their eyes is worth every penny.”