BEGIN WITH BOOKS, the Palmetto Project’s early literacy initiative in Charleston County, is expanding its reach into North Charleston, thanks to $160,000 in new grant funding from The Library Foundation and Charleston Coalition for Kids. Children enrolled in the program receive a free, new book-by-mail each month from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, and a personal letter of encouragement and diploma from the music megastar when they “graduate” from the program on their fifth birthday.
According to Palmetto Project spokesman Nell Killoy, parents of children under age five in zip codes 29418 and 29420 can enroll their children in BEGIN WITH BOOKS right now. There is no charge for a child to participate.
Killoy said that research suggests that enrolled children are one-third more likely to enter kindergarten with literacy skills required to successfully advance to higher grades. “An important element of the program is Ms. Parton’s insistence that we serve all children regardless of their parents’ income or economic status,” Killoy said. “It’s a little magical when the children arrive in kindergarten and realize that they have all read the same books and have them at home on their bookshelves,” she added. Killoy said that BEGIN WITH BOOKS is currently serving 5,400 children in Charleston County. Its new funding will allow the organization to serve an additional 1,200 children for five years. According to Ms. Killoy, the Palmetto Project is working to expand the program to all 23,000 children under age five in Charleston County within the next two years.
BEGIN WITH BOOKS was founded and continues to be run by volunteers. The per child cost to the Palmetto Project is $33 a year which is underwritten with donations from local businesses, community organizations, and individuals. Since 2010, it has provided 503,344 books to 16,216 children in Charleston County. Statewide, more than 45,000 children in South Carolina are currently enrolled.
To learn more or to enroll a child, visit www.beginwithbooks.org. The program is currently available to children under age 5 in the zip codes listed below.
29404 (Charleston AFB)
29405 (North Charleston)
29406 (North Charleston)
29407 (Charleston-West Ashley)
29418 (North Charleston) - NEW!
29420 (North Charleston) - NEW!
29426 (Adams Run)
29439 (Folly Beach)
29449 (Hollywood and Meggett)
29455 (Johns Island)
29487 (Wadmalaw Island)
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