‘Book in Every Home’ campaign aids in children’s reading development

Adalynn Wille, 5, enjoys looking through a book while visiting her grandpa on Jan. 24 at his apartment in Carbondale. Wille attends one of four Head Start Centers and receives new books through SIU Head Start's

Adalynn Wille, 5, enjoys looking through a book while visiting her grandpa on Jan. 24 at his apartment in Carbondale. Wille attends one of four Head Start Centers and receives new books through SIU Head Start's "Book in Every Home" campaign. The campaign's intent is to collect enough new books for all the children who attend the centers.

By Shannon Allen, @ShannonAllen_DE

Children enrolled in Carbondale’s Head Start program receive 10 free books each year through the “Book in Every Home” campaign, and one Carbondale child is benefiting from it greatly.

Amber Wille, mother to Adalynn Wille and substitute teacher at Head Start, said the campaign has aided in Adalynn’s learning abilities.

“Last year, Adalynn brought home nine free books because of this campaign,” Amber Wille said. “I have a few friends in the program who don’t even buy books anymore because they get so many for free.”

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Head Start, a national program with an SIU location, “provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families,” according to its website.

The program, which serves 3-year-old to 5-five-year-old children, has locations throughout Jackson and Williamson Counties and operates at SIU with funding from a federal grant.

Amber talked about the lack of resources for underprivileged children, who are targeted by the program.

“Some children don’t always have access to books unless they’re donated or they visit the library,” Wille said. “But how children learn depends on the time and effort the parents put into it.”

Books for the program are donated from various places, including the university and Carbondale Public Library, Amber said.

Five-year-old Adalynn, who is in her final year of the program, said her favorite author is Rosemary Wells and some of her favorite books include ‘Curious George’ and ‘Just Going to the Dentist’. 

Amber said she and her daughter visit the library twice a week and read four to five books together every night. 

“When we read together, we’ll talk about why it’s important,” she said of the bonding experience. 

Adalynn was curious about why some of her Jewish and Muslim friends do not celebrate Christmas, so her mother said they read books about different traditions.

“She’s learning, and I’m learning to learn with her,” she said.

Amber attended SIU for special education, but left school when Adalynn was four months old. She said teaching other students is different from teaching her own child.

In addition to teaching Adalynn to read, Amber has also been teaching her Spanish and sign language. The five-year-old can say words like ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ and knows the sign language alphabet.

Amber said another parent in the program has said since the campaign launched, his daughter reads more often and is learning letters more quickly.

“He said that she wasn’t able to recognize letters as well as she does now,” Amber said. “He was shocked by how much she’s grown.”

Ronda Dunn, SIU President Randy Dunn’s wife and university alumna, also comes into Head Start to read to the children from time to time. She is the chairperson for the campaign for the second time. 

“This campaign brings more awareness to the benefit of daily reading with small children,” Dunn said. “I enjoy reading to them.”

Shannon Allen can be reached at [email protected] or at (618) 536-3329.

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