Beginning this school year, children born in Yap are eligible to receive a new, age appropriate book every month, from birth through age five.
That’s the goal of Habele’s “Young Island Readers,” a program to support early childhood literacy through direct donations of book. It’s made possible by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL), a community-based program providing children with free, home-delivered books from birth to their 5th birthday.
By age five, each Young Island Reader will have a personal library of sixty books.
“Access to books at home correlates highly with childrens’ reading scores once they enter primary school,” says Neil Mellen, Habele’s Founder. “Having good books in reach helps grow a child’s love for learning. Their imaginations come alive as parents and caregivers read to them.”
Habele is the local champion for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) in Micronesia. Established by former Peace Corps Volunteers, Habele has served Micronesian students through book donations, scholarships and robotics training since 2006. Habele first proposed “Young Island Readers” to community members and educators on Yap shortly after the departure of Peace Corps volunteers from the FSM in 2018.
Volunteers serving in the education sector had been creating and maintaining school-based libraries, the primary source of books for young children on Yap. With the end of Peace Corps’ support for libraries, local educators reached out to Habele for new ways to foster early childhood literacy.
Young Island Readers will work with local partners to help fill this void. Local student volunteers from Yap Catholic High School will be actively enrolling and updating new participants monthly.
“I believe Young Island Readers is a powerful tool for increasing literacy among children here on Yap, “ says Michael Weincek, Principal of Yap Catholic High School. “A love of learning starts years before a child enters the classroom.”
The FSM Postal Office will ensure all books get to their intended recipients, even when addressed “care of” distant family members.
About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has mailed well over 100 million free books in Australia, Canada, The Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States. The Imagination Library mails more than 1.4 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring them to dream. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit imaginationlibrary.com.