By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- This holiday season, give the gift of literacy at your local library through the Seasons Readings program that provides new books to 3 to 5-year-olds in local childcare centers.
The Martin County Library System has partnered with the Early Learning Coalition to help put books into the hands of children. The Early Learning Coalition will provide the names and ages of children enrolled in their programs to the libraries that will then ask patrons to purchase new books and donate them to their local branch.
The library has made it easy for the community to help them reach their goal of 300 books.
Names, ages and genders will be printed on paper gingerbread men and hung on Christmas trees at each library in the county. Library visitors can pick a name, purchase a book from the recommended list, and bring it back to be wrapped and distributed.
"We're always promoting literacy from a young age," said Melanie Daniels, the children's assistant at the Hoke Library and the woman in charge of this year's program.
Story times for young children have always been a hit, too, but Ms. Daniels knows that a book that belongs to them makes a child want to take ownership of their learning. It's essential to develop strong reading habits early so children don't fall behind in school, she explained.
Besides, Ms. Daniels believes every child should have favorite books that they can open and enjoy time and time again.
She cherishes the memories she has of favorite childhood books. She still has a few on a shelf, reminding her of the joys of reading at a young age and wants to share her love of books with the next generation.
"I love spreading literacy in the community," Ms. Daniels said.
Residents can stop by the libraries throughout the month of November to pick up a gingerbread man. The books must be returned by Dec. 1 so they can be wrapped and distributed to children who will be all smiles as they unwrap their very own book.