Programs we support

Our programs center around the growing body of evidence-based research that the building blocks of literacy begin at an early age with access to a child’s “home” library of picture books to build upon consistent and multiple shared reading interactions between caregivers/parents and children. "Reading aloud to children has been called the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading. Having books in the home helps children learn specific things about reading and words, such as how to turn pages one at a time, the difference between words and pictures, every word has a meaning, sometimes book language sounds different from everyday conversation, and there are objects, places, events and situations that they have not heard about before." (Armbruster et al. 4). In addition,R2L projects spring from child development brain research stating the importance of reading to and with children at a very early age promotes learning as well as social, emotional and physical health (The Children’s Reading Foundation; Imagination Library Supportive Research).

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL)

Launched in January 2020, R2L is the local funding affiliate for the DPIL program in Poweshiek county. Through this program, a quality children’s book is mailed EACH MONTH to ANY registered child in Poweshiek County and surrounding area, at NO CHARGE to the family. The only qualifications are that children must live within the designated geographic area and be under five years of age. Note that census data indicates there are over 900 children in Poweshiek county between birth to five years of age, eligible to participate in DPIL. Of those children, it is estimated that approximately 60% will likely register. R2L must raise nearly $13,000 annually to continue to support this program across Poweshiek County.

Books for Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA)

R2L provides books for children, classrooms, parents and educators through the Family Development, Family Connections and Headstart programs with MICA. Here’s how we do it:
  • Read 2 Lead Book Repository: MICA program specialists with Family Development and Family Connections choose quality books ranging from early concepts, touch and feel, nursery rhymes, Dr. Seuss, storybooks and more to deliver to children during home visits. Children and families enrolled in the MICA programs may receive up to two new books per month.
  • Preschool Book Studies: Children attending Headstart are provided with a teacher selected new book each month for classroom led “book studies''. Each month a new book is given to every child for repeated readings and story retells. R2L also ensures the Headstart classroom library and teacher have copies of each of the book study books too! When possible, book study books are purchased in board books and in bilingual (Spanish/English) formats.
  • Parent Resource Library: MICA staff and families access a robust resource library on aspects of everyday life including managing finances, healthy discipline, cooking and family meal preparation, etc. This library is developed in partnership with MICA staff and maintained with help from R2L high school student liaisons and board member volunteers. This critical resource provides MICA specialists with a library of books to give to families as they further promote shared reading and learning with families who have been identified as being “at risk” and in vulnerable situations due to economic hardship and poverty.
  • Literacy Care Packages: Packages are personalized for each individual child and are distributed before winter break. R2L partners with the Life Responsibilities class at Grinnell-Newburg High School, MICA and Headstart educators.  Literacy care package materials are packaged in a reusable tote and include a handmade blanket or quilt crafted by a high school student, age level appropriate books, a stuffed animal, and a bookmark printed with reading tips. NEW in 2023 is the addition of a literacy care package for parents of newborns and babies. This care package includes a velvety soft, full-sized blanket and the book, “Read to Your Bunny” by Rosemary Wells.

Raising a Reader (RAR):

A program started in 2022 by a former AmeriCorps member and now sustained by R2L. This program is a partnership with the UnityPoint Grinnell OB department, Poweshiek County Public Health and local clinics. RAR encourages and supports literacy from the very start by putting age-appropriate books, a DPIL registration form and a quick reading tips brochure that includes science-based research excerpts and Kindergarten Readiness Top 10 Skills (as recommended by early childhood specialists in the Grinnell-Newburg Community School District) into the hands of new parents. New in 2023, RAR is now a part of the Brooklyn and Montezuma UnityPoint Clinics.

Kindergarten Kickoff (KKO)

The positive community response to R2L’s literacy care packages through the Books for MICA program was the catalyst for our KKO program. With organization, program development and leadership support of the Grinnell Education Partnership staff, KKO launched in 2021. KKO provides graduating preschoolers with a summer fun themed, literacy focused gift bag. The bags are given in celebration of graduating and preparing for kindergarten. Eligible children are given a reusable R2L tote, beach towel, water bottle, several quality children’s books including “Pete the Cat: Rocking In My School Shoes”, a classic fairy tale/fable and other popular/high interest books. Along with a fantastic selection of books, area preschool educators have developed letter and number tile manipulatives along with a calendar to promote activities for kindergarten readiness. But wait, that’s not all! Further promoting literacy, outdoor play, and imagination, items such as bubbles, chalk, crayons, play-doh, sunglasses, and a beach ball are also included!

The growing, village of support for the KKO program includes area businesses and organizations such as Grinnell United Way, Drake Community Library, Bayer Inc, Grinnell-Newburg School Foundation, Grinnell-Newburg School District’s Connected PTO, Dairy Barn, Grinnell Mutual, Grinnell Rotary Club, Grinnell College and Manatt’s Inc.

In 2023, R2L expanded the KKO program across Poweshiek County to include all graduating preschoolers within the residential school districts of Montezuma and Brooklyn. Additionally, R2L had the awesome honor of including the children’s book, “Daisy’s Tale” by Elizabeth Hansen for every preschool graduate!