Ed foundation, county receive 700 books for Reading Oasis

Published 9:03 am Thursday, July 9, 2015

Austin received 700 books recently for the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program to go in a Reading Oasis to be located in Mower County Health and Human Services lobby in the Government Center.

Austin ECFE was selected to receive 700 books valued at about $12,000 because they provide early literacy opportunities for young children and their families within Austin.

Austin ECFE will incorporate the books into the community literacy initiative by providing books through the Mower County Health and Human Services Reading Oasis, the Austin Public Library and the School Readiness Preschool where young children will receive one of the books to take home and keep. To join these efforts or learn more, contact Amy Baskin at 507 460-1700.

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“These are very high quality books that will benefit our community and families very well,” Austin Public Schools Director of Community Education Amy Baskin said in a press release. “We are very excited to have this opportunity.”

Austin ECFE was one of 28 organizations to receive donated books through Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s (SMIF) BookStart program, a partnership between SMIF and Capstone, based in Mankato. This grant program, which awarded a total of 10,000 books valued at $163,421, is one of SMIF’s early childhood efforts focused on providing resources to all children.

Studies consistently show reading at a young age improves a child’s educational trajectory, so SMIF partnered with Capstone to launch BookStart to help children build their own home library. Over the past 13 years, BookStart has reached thousands of children and parents through programming and the distribution of about 80,000 books across southern Minnesota.

“Reading should be fun, accessible and engaging, for both children and their caregivers. Capstone has been a great long-time partner with our BookStart program as we work to make sure all of our region’s children have a book at home to read or be read to by family members,” SMIF’s President and CEO Tim Penny said in a press release. “We believe investing in our young children is a long-term strategy that will pay big dividends for our communities and businesses.”