by Lisa Moore

Storybox Special train 008ALAMOSA – The train east of the library may not be going anywhere—it is permanently displayed in the park after all—but the train coming out of the library is officially on its way around Alamosa as of Feb. 27.

Deemed the Storybox Special, this train is bound for success, according to its conductor, Southern Peaks children’s librarian Babette Reeves. Its five cars are actually boxes filled with about 20 books each that home child care providers can check-out monthly.

Train pic 14 croppeReeves initiated the program because she was looking to fill a gap she saw in early literacy programs in rural communities like Alamosa. “Family day cares really do not have the transportation or the financial means to get their kids to the library like a lot of the preschools and traditional day cares can,” she said. “These kids need books that can be part of their day, either to look at and play with on their own or to read with adults.”

The books cover early literacy skills and developmental tasks for Delivery day 3preschoolers, like having a new baby in the family or potty training. Boxes include bilingual books as well as a couple of resource books for the teachers.

To participate, providers must attend a workshop where they are taught the six essential early literacy skills: print motivation, vocabulary, print awareness, narrative skills, phonological awareness and letter knowledge. The first workshop was held in January and Reeves said that as word gets out about the program, more workshops will be scheduled.

Reeves hand delivered the first set of books to three home child cares on Friday. “A month later I will go back and pick up the boxes, check them in, rotate them, and take them back out again,” she explained. “Each home child care will get a new box of books for kids to spend time with each month.”

Home child care provider Cindy Goldsworthy is glad the Storybox Special has a scheduled stop at her house because it is difficult to bring five or more infants and preschoolers to the library herself. “We always love reading, and getting new material each month is going to be so exciting,” she said.

Reeves emphasized that studies continue to prove reading to and with preschoolers increases their chances of graduating from high school. With a 66-percent graduation rate at Alamosa High School as reported by the Colorado Department of Education in 2007, Reeves said the Storybox Special is especially important.

“I told those who showed up for the workshop that ten or twelve years from now when the graduation rate goes up, you’re going to tell yourself, and I’m going to remind you, that it is because of what you did in your day cares and your preschools and your homes with those kids when they were babies and until they went to kindergarten that made a difference,” she said.

To learn more about the Storybox Special, call Babette Reeves at 719-589-6592.