“Young Island Readers” is a book-a-month donation program that provides children from birth to age five a new age appropriate each and every month.

A generous investment from the Matson Foundation will cover the cost of providing over 400 such books to children across Yap State this coming January and February.

The Young Island Readers process is simple. When a child is born in Yap State, the mother is provided a sign-up form at the hospital. She writes the child’s name and the post office mailing box their family uses. If she lives in the Outer Islands she indicates on which Atoll or Island they reside.

Sign up forms are offered again when a child is baptized or inoculated, ensuring newborns don’t slip through the cracks. These sign-up forms are collected by students at Yap Catholic High School, where the details are entered into a book ordering system. Mothers or other family members may also obtain forms directly from the Yap Catholic High School as well as submit completed forms there. They can also sign up online at www.habele.org/yir.

Monthly, each enrolled child is sent a new book. The specific title is based on their age and phase of development. The books, sent at USPS media mail rates, arrive individually wrapped and addressed to the child. Those going to children in the Outer Islands are received by the Neighboring Island Coordinators at the Yap State Department of Education. The books headed to children in the Outer Islands make the last leg of the journey on either the state field trip vessel or aboard a Pacific Missionary Airline flight.

The backbone of Young Island Readers is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL). The Imagination Library was founded and created by songwriter, musician, actress, author and business-woman, Dolly Parton, in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee in 1996. She envisioned a community-based program providing children with free, home-delivered books from birth to their 5th birthday.

Habele is the “local champion” or on-the-ground partner for DPIL in Micronesia. Established by former Peace Corps Volunteers, Habele is a US nonprofit, invested in the future and potential of Micronesian students since 2006. Though the program is both effective and efficient, there are still ongoing costs borne by Habele. A generous donation from the Matson Foundation in late 2022 will help with that.

Matson’s generous donation to Habele will cover all the costs for Young Island Reader books mailed in January and February of 2023,” explained Neil Mellen, founder of Habele. “We are grateful for Matson’s continued support of our -and others’- work in Micronesia and across the Pacific in addressing community needs.”

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