Twenty years in early childhood development would exhaust most people, but Ladonna Butler seems to have been made for that very thing. Her eyes are always open to the needs of those around her. She has no fear of talking to anyone about just about anything. And that’s probably what makes her so perfect for the work she’s been doing.
After making a few trips to a public laundry and noticing how bored the children were, the wheels started spinning. Parents were frustrated with their children and seemed to have no way to engage them in anything long enough to get through a few cycles of laundry.
So Ladonna approached the West Kentucky Chapter for Early Care and Education about starting a literacy program that provides children with books in high-traffic public spaces throughout McCracken County. The program not only provides entertainment for children in waiting rooms and laundry mats, but the children are also encouraged to take the books home with them. This new program is called REACH—Reading Expands a Child’s Horizons.
While we often take owning a book for granted, numerous families in McCracken County do not have the funds to provide good reading material for their children. REACH has donated an average of 50 books each month to local families who would not otherwise have had access to something so valuable to their children’s future.
Children who are read to at home are more prepared to begin school and thereby tend to be more successful students. Children with strong reading skills tend to be better behaved in school, and their attendance tends to be higher than children who struggle at lower reading levels.
“We see kids enter school who have never even laid eyes on a book before,” said Ladonna. “I don’t want to give children just one book; I want to see them grow a library!”
REACH is currently focusing on children’s literature, but Ladonna hopes to begin providing reading material for adults as well.
Other local agencies have been crucial to the success of REACH. Paducah Headstart and the West Kentucky Community and Technical College have donated both labor and materials to build the REACH drop boxes and bookshelves. The Paducah Housing Authority has provided a storage space for the books that are donated.
If you are interested in helping REACH to promote literacy, there are several things you can do. Books can be donated at the Paducah Bank Jefferson Street location in the REACH drop box.
Businesses and individuals are also encouraged to sponsor a bookshelf so that more of these can be placed in public spaces. Organizations and businesses can also host a book drive for the organization.
For more information, contact Ladonna at [email protected] or 270.534.3456.
Book Drop Challenge
Thanks to St. Mary for donating more than 500 books in October!
Paducah Bank has issued a challenge to other schools. The school with the most donated books to REACH will win $500 in books for the school library and a visit from the ice cream truck!
Schedule your donation with Susan Guess so your books can be counted. The winner will be determined on a per capita basis, taking into account each school’s student population.The deadline for the donations is March 29.
Photo caption: St. Mary students are from left Matthew Zakutney, Nicole Burks, and Ginny Ross.