Lincoln's libraries and museums will create programs to make sure kids read aloud every day through a new, two-year grant.
The $150,000 grant -- which will be matched by the Lincoln Community Foundation -- will build on Lincoln City Libraries' “Read Aloud 15 Minutes a Day” program, an initiative to encourage parents to read aloud to their kids.
“Reading aloud 15 minutes to a child most days of the week is the most important thing you can do to create lifelong readers,” said Michelle Suarez, who leads the early childhood arm of the community initiative Prosper Lincoln. “It promotes talking, bonding, attachment. It’s the single most important thing.”
Reading aloud to children is a key strategy of Prosper Lincoln’s early childhood agenda, and has been the main topic of more than 20 presentations to a wide variety of community organizations.
The grant will be highlighted at Wednesday’s Prosper Lincoln Summit at Pinnacle Bank Arena, where participants will hear the latest Lincoln Vital Signs report, which compiles economic and demographic data.
The grant, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will expand the library initiative to include the Lincoln Children’s Museum, the Midwestern African Museum of Art, Culture and Resource Center, the Nebraska History Museum and the University of Nebraska State Museum.
As part of the project, a coalition will be formed and project director hired to oversee the reading aloud program and will work to involve businesses, day care providers, public schools and after-school programs.
The libraries and museums will hold weekly activities and monthly and quarterly events. The project will specifically target Lincoln’s poorest neighborhoods near downtown, where 42 percent of the households are below the poverty threshold.
The quarterly events will be held in those neighborhoods with transportation available along with dinner and activities.
The initiative also will host annual read aloud celebrations.
The goal of the project is to have 10,000 families participate in activities, have 8,000 families commit to reading aloud 15 minutes a day for a month and for 5,000 families to document that reading for a year.
Through activities planned through the grant, 5,000 books will be distributed to families.
The grant will allow the new coalition to create a promotional campaign, including a website promoting reading aloud, posters, signs for reading nooks at the museums and libraries and a calendar of reading events.
The Lincoln Community Foundation, which wrote the grant application for the Community Catalyst grant, was among 12 winners nationally.