A $20,000 investment will pay big dividends for young patrons of the Lee-Itawamba Library System. “Partnering with CREATE on this project is an investment in the development of early childhood literacy, which is the key to building an educated adult workforce for our community,” said Jan Willis, director of the library system that now owns seven new Early Literacy Stations.
The ELS computers – six at the Lee County Library and one at the Itawamba County Pratt Memorial Library in Fulton – were purchased with a gift from the John and Frances Marchbanks Endowment Fund Commission Grant program at CREATE.
Willis said the award allows the library system’s children’s departments to expand their role as early literacy centers.
“Literacy is more than reading and writing,” he said. “It’s providing resources in multiple formats, early on, to help our children become knowledgeable about the world in which they will be living and competing.”
The plug and play computers, with color-coded keys, are loaded with 38 educational software packages geared for toddlers through second-graders. The curriculum areas include language, science, math, geography, history and art. Familiar language titles include “Stellaluna,” “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”
Fun, creative learning
In the art department, kids can get creative with “Krazy ArtRoom” and “Microsoft Paint,” while Reader Rabbit and Between the Lions take children on math adventures. One of the ELS computers at the Lee County Library is bilingual, Willis said, in English and Spanish.
“I love the monitors, I love the colors,” Willis said. “They have a very cool interface so that children are drawn to it. Children are learning and they don’t even know they are learning because they are having so much fun.”
Five-year-old Ella Friloux gave a thumbs up when she recently tried out the ELS computers.
“I like the games,” she said.
“I think she’s played them all,” added Ella’s mom, Tammy Friloux. “The older computers were great, but sometimes the headphones would break. These are much better.”
Lewis Whitfield, senior vice president of CREATE, said there are a couple of very good reasons for the charitable foundation’s investment in early literacy.
“One is our workforce development strategy calls for providing more computer access at every level,” Whitfield said. “We believe that’s important. The second thing is understanding that if a child can’t read effectively by the third grade, their chances of dropping out of school are outrageously high.
“This is access to technology,” he said, “and also instruction that will help them become ready for school.”
Contact Ginny Miller at (662) 678-1582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.