With parents struggling to find things for their kids to do, what could be better than reading -- and free books at that?
Since 2012, Miami-Dade County 3-year-olds have had access to a book club that offers a free book through the mail every month. But starting this summer, the program is expanding to all children in the county from birth through their fifth birthday. That means that families with newborns who sign up for the program can get up to 60 free books for their kids before they start kindergarten. That’s the point, really.
The program, The Children’s Trust Book Club, sends a book in English or Spanish on a monthly basis to help prepare children for schooling and life success. Reading books with children supercharges their imagination, helps them develop language and listening skills and has been shown to improve performance in school.
“We know that the most critical phase of learning happens before kindergarten,” said The Children’s Trust president and CEO James R. Haj. “Expanding the Book Club to all children from birth to 5 years old gives access to a wealth of books for even more parents and caregivers to be able to sit with their children and learn about the world and each other.”
In partnership with the Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership, The Children’s Trust is launching the expanded book club in July, with families and children already able to register for the program -- completely free.
Along with the expansion, the new book club also makes it easier for families to register, as they can simply do so by texting “READ” or “LEER” to 786-460-2582. The book club also features new interactive reading guides to help parents learn how best to read and share each book with their children, as well as how to make the time spent together rewarding and enjoyable.
As for the books themselves, the book club includes classics, award-winners and picture books to engage even newborns and infants. All books are selected specifically to help children develop their early reading skills for school readiness and, of course, for maximum enjoyment with their families.
More than 90% of parents who signed up their children for the original book club reported that they read to their children three or more times a week, learned how to identify age-appropriate books, and all of them said that the reading increased their understanding of school readiness skills.
While tens of thousands of books have already been sent out, with the launch of new Book Club, The Children’s Trust hopes to sign up 90,000 children under the age of 5 in the county in the next five years.