Thoughtful Parenting: Reading to your children |

Thoughtful Parenting: Reading to your children

Emily White For Steamboat Today

I had a charmed childhood: I befriended a big red dog and learned about my town; a train encouraged me to think that I can; I gave a mouse a cookie; and a monkey in a delightfully yellow hat taught me to be curious.

That is the power of reading.

The Imagination Library allows children and their parents to harness the power of reading to explore and understand their world. Women United, an affinity group of Routt County United Way is launching the Imagination Library which allow children and families to access free age-appropriate literature. Founded by Dolly Parton, The Imagination library is designed to improve early child literacy by having books delivered every month to family homes from birth until children turn 5 years old.  Books are selected by national literacy experts.

Books include classics parents grew up reading as well as several newer books for our contemporary young readers. Titles such as The Engine That Could by Arnold Munk and The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter always guaranteed to bring a nostalgic smile to parents' faces.  Newer titles include "The Spiffiest Giant in Town", a colorful and imaginative book about sharing and being generous by Julia Donaldson; and "Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon" by Patty Lovell and David Catrow, which motivates children to embrace their differences and to apply their own special gifts to making the world a better place.

The books are delivered right to the doors of participating families, allowing children to go on otherworldly adventures and befriend mythical creatures from the comfort of their own cozy beds. The scene is almost idyllic: a parent snuggling into a tiny twin bed with their child to read a book while the little one stares at the illustrations wide eyed and engaged. Soft spoken mom is perfect for voicing the little hungry mouse, and dad's sonorous bass makes for an entertaining portrayal of a misunderstood monster. Children need to adventure.

Parents can help by using tips provided by the Imagination Library to help parents read with their children. For example from Pretend by Jennifer Plecas: Look at the title together. Some of the characters are standing on letters. Which letters are they standing on? And from Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann: As you read together, explain the meaning of each safety tip by sharing examples from your family's experiences. Try acting things out: What would happen if you ate raw hamburger?  Grab your stomach and roll around in a comical fashion to make your child laugh. Additional, more general, reading tips for parents include: ask questions after reading to start a discussion; ask your child to point to pictures that illustrate positive character traits (confidence, generosity); act out things discussed in the books whether its hide and seek (Otis and the Puppy by Loren Long), or composing thank-you letters (Ten Thank-You Letters by Daniel Kirk).

Recommended Stories For You

The Imagination Library is important because it allows children to be young and carefree, and to be imaginative in a world of limitless opportunities. Additionally, the Imagination Library is a free option to empower kids to grow and become more literate while inviting their parents along for the thrill!

Registration for families will begin in January 2018, and the first books will be delivered in March! Check out the Routt County United Way's Facebook page or website for more information posted every week. To donate, please visit the Routt County United Way website of give the office a call at 970-879-5605. Questions can be emailed to your local Imagination Library Program Coordinator at

Emily White is the Americorp VISTA Program Coordinator for the Imagination Library, Routt County United Way

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