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Book Drive in Oceana to Jumpstart New Literacy Program

Oceana County is having its first official book drive starting Monday, January 30th and ending Friday, February 24th. Collection boxes for books that are in good condition and meant for children ages 0-3 will be in all local high schools, Shelby State Bank branch locations, as well as the following locations:

Shelby – Shelby Public Library, The Ladder Community Center
Hart – Hart Public Library, Hansens
Hesperia – Hesperia Public Library
New Era – New Era Reformed Church
Walkerville – Lake Osceola State Bank

The program behind this book drive, Read Early, Read Often, is geared towards encouraging parents to read to their children starting at birth. Reading early and often teaches children to listen and focus, introduces new words, builds imagination and celebrates our world, improves school readiness and future success in school and life.

Given data showing that 67% of Oceana 3rd graders are not proficient in English Language Arts, community partners began looking for ways to bolster early literacy. The initiative is led by the Community Foundation for Oceana County, and coordinated by Hannah Juhl, an AmeriCorps VISTA member hosted by the Foundation. The Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is heading up the book drive as one of their community projects this spring. The YAC, made up 47 student representatives from all Oceana’s high schools, guide & provide leadership on the distribution of grants to promising youth related projects in the County.

The first five years are the most formative in the brain development of a child. Babies and toddlers who are read to often will have heard as many as thirty million more words than children who aren’t read to before Preschool. “The sad and frustrating fact for educators and a community at large that is struggling to overcome poverty barriers, is that four years olds in poor families are often a year behind their peers in terms of educational development,” said Juhl.

If you would like to learn more about the Read Early, Read Often program or get involved, the Foundation will be hosting the first Strategic Doing Meeting on February 15. The meeting will be at the Oceana ESD building in the boardroom from 3:30-5:00. “This program will need to help of many volunteers to help spread the word, distribute books and advocate for this campaign. We are hoping for a big turn-out at our first meeting,” said Juhl. Interested persons can also contact Juhl at for more information.