Programs working to bring literacy to children all over our state


KINSTON, Lenoir County - Diving into a new book can be fun at any age. Experts say reading is crucial from birth to age five.

For many parents, reading a book to their kids is routine. But it may surprise you to learn just how important reading is especially at a young age and what the state is doing to help.

"We have a bookshelf at home and they just pick a book and every day I'm reading to them," said Courtney O'Pharrow.

She said she began reading to her 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter while they were still in the womb. Now, she said they are hooked on reading.

"I think she likes the library more than the park," O'Pharrow said.

Having a love for reading at an early age is crucial. Ashley Chadwick works for the Lenoir-Greene Partnership for Children and stresses the importance of reading to children.

"The first 2,000 days are essential for a child's development," Chadwick said. "It's so important to be able to get books into the homes of every child."

Chadwick's organization is behind "Books and Brunch," which is looking to raise 30,000 additional dollars for the already state-funded Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. It's a program where every child receives an age-appropriate book to their home every month from birth to age 5. This is the first year the state General Assembly approved money for Dolly Parton's program. It's currently in 97 of 100 counties in our state.

Between those books and events like story time at the local library, mothers like O'Pharrow have options when it comes to exposing their children to reading.

"A lot of times I don't feel like reading, honestly, to them," O'Pharrow said. "But it's only like five minutes of your time and they learn from that and love it."