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The Importance of Home Libraries and FRESH's Mission to Promote Childhood Literacy

"Literacy is the birthright of every child. Reading introduces children to new worlds and ideas, expands their imaginations, and helps them chart their own destinies." This statement comes from a recent research paper by Scholastic Education, emphasizing the significance of having a home library for children. Studies have shown that access to age-appropriate books at home significantly improves a child's literacy potential, which is a strong predictor of academic and lifelong achievement. Fauquier Reaches for Excellence in School Health (FRESH) is committed to providing free books to every child in Fauquier County.

Thanks to a growing network of literacy allies, FRESH has made significant strides towards their goal. Over the past year, the organization has received over 12,000 book donations, with the majority coming from McKay's Used Books in Manassas. This volume of donations has enabled FRESH to distribute free books extensively across schools and the community.

Free books are always prominently featured anytime FRESH hosts or attends a community event. In addition, FRESH has recently initiated a number of new community partnerships, with monthly book deliveries to Piedmont Pediatrics, Warrenton Pediatrics, Woodside Pediatric Dentistry, Fauquier Free Clinic, Fauquier FISH, the Department of Social Services, and Fauquier Health. Families visiting these establishments are now able to take books home to keep.

As a program of Fauquier County Public Schools, FRESH has also increased book donations for school literacy nights and to help teachers expand their classroom libraries. The organization's partnership with Learning Starts Early (LSE) has further improved access to reading material for young learners. LSE provides books and learning kits during all of FRESH's summer programming and recently collaborated with Coleman Elementary to donate preschool-aged books for the school's library.

Earlier this year, FRESH took another step forward in promoting early literacy by launching Fauquier's branch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The county's children, between the ages of birth to five, can now receive one free book per month, delivered right to their doorstep. Thanks to contributions from FRESH, LSE, the Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation, and community members, this project came to fruition. FRESH has partnered with Fauquier Health to raise awareness of the program among new parents and throughout the hospital. Local pediatricians' offices will also promote the program shortly.

Over the past year, FRESH has made significant progress by doubling their book distributions. Since 2016, they have generously given away more than 100,000 free books to children throughout Fauquier County.

“Home libraries are a fundamental way to improve literacy rates amongst children,” explains FRESH Supervisor, Kristen McAuliffe. “I would love for every family with a child in Fauquier County to have at least one FRESH book in their home.”

FRESH is a Fauquier County Public School program funded by the PATH Foundation. FRESH’s mission is to inspire a lifetime of wellness through nutrition, movement, and literacy enrichment.