If you’re looking for free children’s books or advice for helping kids learn to read, several organizations in Wichita are here to help.
Here’s a rundown of some local literacy resources:
Wichita Public Library
As part of the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” reading challenge, parents of children 6 and under can pick up a free “1,000 Books” folder at any library branch. Inside is a tracking sheet that your child can color each time you read a book, along with book lists, language development tips and more. After you read your first 100 books, take the completed sheet to the library and exchange it for a free tote bag. Continue to read and collect more prizes along the way.
For more information, go to wichitalibrary.org.
Storytime Village is a Kansas-based nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring a lifelong love of reading among underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community book drives and other events, the group gives away new books to children and families who have few, if any, books of their own.
For more information, call 316-350-4511, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.storytimevillage.org.
United Way Read to Succeed
The United Way Read to Succeed initiative focuses on helping children read at grade level by third grade, when students begin to transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Volunteer reading coaches are matched with at-risk students at more than a dozen Wichita elementary schools. They meet weekly with the student for 30 minutes to listen to them read and provide intervention tactics to help them improve their reading skills.
For more information, call 316-267-1321, or visit www.unitedwayplains.org/read-to-succeed-initiative.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income.
For information about how to register, donate or become a community partner, go to imaginationlibrary.com.
Turn a Page, Touch a Mind
Through Turn a Page, Touch a Mind — an early literacy program sponsored by the Kansas Pediatric Foundation — physicians at more than 100 sites in Kansas give a new, developmentally appropriate book to children during their well-child exams and talk to parents about the importance of reading at home.
For information, go to www.kansaspediatricfoundation.org.
Rotary Club of Wichita
The Rotary Club of Wichita partners with Reading is Fundamental, a nationwide children’s literacy organization, to provide free books to students at more than 20 Wichita public schools. The group also participates in the USA Dictionary Project each year, giving a free hardback Scholastic Dictionary to every third-grader who attends a Title I Wichita school.
For more information, visit www.wichitarotary.org.
Parents as Teachers
Parents as Teachers programs across the country pair parents and their young children with parent educators who guide the children’s development through home visits, play groups, developmental screenings and other activities.
There are nearly 70 Parents as Teachers programs in Kansas, including ones in the Wichita, Derby, Goddard, Maize, Haysville and Mulvane school districts. Services are available to any parent — including relatives as caregivers and foster parents — who has a child under age 3.
For more information, visit parentsasteachers.org or call your local school district office.
Child Start provides early childhood developmental services and is the local grantee for Head Start and Early Head Start, a federally funded program that provides child care to low-income families. The organization also maintains a database of local child care providers.
For information, call 316-682-1853 or visit childstart.org.
Foster Grandparents, a program operated by Catholic Charities of Wichita, pairs senior citizens with children who have special or exceptional needs. Kids and seniors spend time together talking, reading or in one-on-one tutoring.
For information, call 316-264-8344 or visit catholiccharitieswichita.org.
Little Free Libraries
A Little Free Library is a box — some look like barns, others like doll houses — where neighbors donate, borrow and share books on the honor system. Anyone can stop by and pick up a book or bring one to share.
There are several Little Free Libraries in the Wichita area, including one in the Fairmount neighborhood near Wichita State University. For more information or a directory of libraries, visit littlefreelibrary.org.
The Opportunity Project
The Opportunity Project, called TOP for short, is a nonprofit group dedicated to early education for children living in poverty. The group runs three preschools in the Wichita area — 4600 S. Clifton, 2330 Opportunity Drive, and 2665 N. Arkansas.
For more information, call 316-522-8677 or visit www.theopportunityproject.com.
Fundamental Learning Center
The Fundamental Learning Center is a nonprofit organization that serves children with significant reading, spelling and writing difficulties, including children with dyslexia. The group operates Rolph Literacy Academy, a private school for children with reading difficulties, and also trains teachers through the Andeel Teacher Literacy Institute.
For more information, call 316-684-READ (7323), or visit www.funlearn.org.
This content was created with support from Impact Literacy, a strategic initiative of the Wichita Community Foundation.