Since 2010, the Seaside Public Library has proudly supported Reading Outreach in Clatsop County.

Back in 2009, this was actually formed as a program for all rural children and teens by Reita Fackerell of the Seaside Public Library, and Jane Tucker of the Astoria Public Library. Their goal was to form a partnership with the school districts in our county to make sure every child in Clatsop County had access to books and reading.

If you think about Clatsop County, it’s like a big square with the Seaside, Astoria, and Warrenton libraries around the northwest corner. This leaves all the kids in the rural areas of the county far away from the libraries. In fact, their closest library is usually their school library. For kids in kindergarten through fifth grade especially, they typically are only allowed to check out only one or two books every seven to 14 days. That is not a lot, when you consider the most crucial time for brain growth is during this time. In the first three years, a child’s brain grows to 90 percent of its adult weight, while also creating all the correct process and connections for learning success. Building vocabulary for kids is crucial because brains make the majority of the connectors they need for the rest of their lives (how to store, retrieve, and make connections between things to learn and make judgments) during ages 0-18.

In a study by Hart & Risley in 1995, the number of words a child has heard by age 3 in a lower income home is 10 million. That sounds like a lot until you realize that a middle income child has heard double that amount. They have had the opportunity for far more interactions with a parent or caregiver, and they are typically read to at night.

A high-income child has even more opportunities and typically has heard 30 million words by the age of three. I’m giving you these statistics, not to depress you, but to say, we are working to help change the outcome for children in our county. The more opportunities and access kids have to books, reading, and more vocabulary resources, the more opportunities will open up for a child later in life. This is the premise behind Libraries Reading Outreach in Clatsop County program. We try to put a library card in the hands of every child in Clatsop County that wants one and have a countywide (not just one or two cities) summer reading program to further that access and exposure. We have great partnerships with the school districts of Astoria, Jewell, Knappa, Seaside, and Warrenton, the Warrenton Library is the third public library that is in partnership in the program and Clatsop County has supported the Libraries ROCC program since 2014.

We have already established three key areas of success for the program including summer reading program, library cards for kids, and courier services between the schools and public libraries and we will continue to look for ways to collaborate and grow. Since 2010, over 700 children have gotten library cards through this program and they have checked out over 78,000 books and other materials! One challenge we now face is that funding for the program over the last five years was supplied through several Library and Services Technology Act grants and now we are in the process of working toward being permanently funded locally. In order to reach that goal, Libraries ROCC will be doing several fundraisers annually.

Our very first fundraiser, sponsored in part by the Seaside Public Library Foundation, is to have people in the community create Little Library stands (similar to Little Free Libraries you can purchase from littlefreelibrary.org) to be donated and auctioned off in February by Libraries ROCC. The rules for the contest and more details can be picked up at the Astoria, Seaside, or Warrenton Public Libraries. We hope you will join us if you are crafty or a builder and be creative in making these cute little “houses.” All proceeds will directly benefit the Libraries ROCC program. The little libraries must be finished and dropped off at the Seaside Public Library by Dec. 31. If you like, please place a weather proof placard on the little library stating who or what business created it. I’ve seen some very creative ideas for the little libraries including one that looked like a lighthouse! The little libraries will be on display in January at the Seaside Library and auctioned off in February. Money donations are also accepted for the Libraries ROCC program and can be made out to the fiscal agent: The Friends of the Seaside Library, in care of the Seaside Public Library, 1131 Broadway Ave., Seaside, OR. You can also give online at: www.gofundme.com/LibrariesROCC.

As U.S. Education Secretary Richard W. Riley has said, “If every child were read to daily from infancy, it would revolutionize education in this country!”

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