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Statewide book giveaway supports early literacy

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One Book 4 Colorado (OB4CO) is back for its sixth consecutive year and is giving away 75,000 copies of the same book to every four year old in the state. OB4CO is a privately funded program that is a collaboration between Lt. Governor Donna Lynne's office, Colorado Office of Early Literacy, Colorado State Library, the Denver Preschool Program, public and military libraries statewide, the private sector and the nonprofit and foundation communities.

The goal of the program is to promote early literacy skills and support the families that serve as a child's first and most important teacher. The OB4CO website states, "Research shows that 4-year-olds that have access to books and adults that read to them often will be much more likely to be ready to read when they start kindergarten."

Generous contributions from sponsors and partners are essential in making the OB4CO giveaway a success. One example of this is public libraries. Delta County Libraries is involved in the process starting as early as December by gathering information from preschools and other organizations countywide to project the number of books needed. Then, starting in early January, the voting period opens to select the book.

Families that attend weekly story times at the libraries are encouraged to participate in the voting process to select a winner.

Prior to public announcement of the winner in April, Delta County Library staff are busy preparing the books, activities and other materials necessary for the giveaway, along with scheduling visits to pre-schools countywide. "It is collaboration that requires a good deal of staff time and energy," says district director Lea Hart. "There is also the cost of the craft that is handed out with each book. We have been very lucky that our local Backpack Program has been willing to support the giveaway with a majority of the funding needed for the craft."

"The Delta Family Center, through the work of the Backpack Program, has been promoting and supporting early literacy skills in Delta County for over 25 years," says Lisa Mock, assistant director of the Delta Family Center. "We are happy to support OB4CO as an important program to the State of Colorado and the communities of Delta County. By putting books in the hands of children, we are providing an opportunity to open a world of imagination and a lifelong love of reading."

Nearly 500 books, along with the corresponding craft, are ready to give away in pre-schools and library story times starting Monday, April 17, through Monday, May 1. This year's book winner, "Mouse Mess" by Linnea Riley, is the story of a cute little mouse that wakes up hungry and proceeds to search for food throughout the house, making a mess along the way.

"The joy on children's faces when they receive a new book is priceless," Mock says. "The importance of early childhood literacy should be a priority for every community and we are happy to partner with Delta County Libraries and the governor's office to make that a possibility for families here in Colorado."

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