NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — A free book subscription program is coming to New Britain after success in Hartford.
According to the United Way, 70% of households in Hartford that have children are enrolled in the program, with impacts reaching beyond literacy.
“We’ve seen statistical evidence that students who are read to at those early ages are going to have greater success,” United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut President and CEO Eric Harrison said.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and The United Way Readers Program are getting a $150,000 boost to expand their literary reach.
Consolidated School District of New Britain Superintendent Tony Gasper said learning also needs to take place outside the classroom in order for students to see long-term success.
“That translates into better academic success for them across the spectrum, not just in reading,” Gasper said. “Reading gives the kids access to math, science to social studies.”
Congresswoman and educator Jahana Hayes secured the additional funding. She said reading skills are crucial to build.
“They are better prepared when they are older and enter the workforce, so I think you have to have a different level of investment in educating our children,” Hayes said.
New Britain families with kids up to 5 years old can sign up to get a free book in either English or Spanish every month.
For continued learning, The United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut readers’ program pairs adult volunteers with students ages 5 to 9 to read together to improve literacy.
Gasper said that creating a culture of reading will improve the entire district.
“We are still struggling with attendance post-COVID,” Gasper said. “So, we are hopeful that as kids build a love for learning both at school and at home, that they will be more likely to attend. We think it might be helpful there too.”
The only eligibility requirement is being a New Britain or Hartford resident and having children under the age of 5. Families can register online.