The Literacy Program at Cox Children’s Center

“Books are not cheap.” Like any college student, Stacey Gilmore, director of Cox Children’s Center, knows this well. That is why the center has implemented the Literacy Program, designed to encourage literacy and fluency in the homes of young readers. “…Educators know that there is so much value in exposing children at an early age to books, and the more exposure that we can give them, the better a chance at an appreciation for reading we can [have] for the children,” explained Gilmore. The center does have the privilege of having books for children. Their own lending library allows students to take books home and read to their hearts’ content. It is a system that works, but a problem still persists: “We haven’t replaced the books in a while. And so some of them have read most of our books,” Gilmore said.

            The Literacy Program allows for a mix in the selection of books. “This [literacy program] is a way to give every child a special book to take home and reinforce the fact that we do strongly believe in the value of reading…and just to encourage those families to spend a little bit of extra time with them reading that special book each week,” Gilmore explained. Cox Children’s Center believes that literacy is a foundation of learning.  “It will help them with their reading as they get into school and grow into adults to have that early appreciation,” Gilmore said. “It will help them to learn words, to put words even in a picture book, for example – they start to recognize at an early age that pictures have meaning, and so it helps them with their comprehension and their overall language arts, fluency and understanding.”

            Becoming a sponsor is simple. All the center is asking for is $15 to sponsor one child. This comes to $1.50 per month for a whole school year. Donors can mail their checks to Cox Children’s Center. The building is averaging about 70 students during the academic school year, their ages ranging from six weeks to 12 years of age. Volunteers, if they so choose, might even share a story or two through video. “The kids like it,” she said. “They like to have a special visitor on campus come in or read to them. And again, it shows them that we as adults value reading [and] value literacy.”

            The gifts from the community are greatly appreciated by the families that receive them. Gilmore talked about how excited the kids get. “The kids look forward to when they get to look in their cubby and take it home.” If there’s one thing that families should take away from the process it is that Cox Children’s Center cares about the children’s learning and development – that’s why they go through this process every year. “I think it’s heartwarming to see the support the way the campus community embraces the children’s center here on campus,” Gilmore gushed.

            “It kind of goes back to the old saying, ‘it takes a village,’” She continued “We believe in that a lot. Especially for those single parents out there or parents who’ve got [family members] going away to Kuwait for a year. I think it just shows that sense of community.”