Children across the city are receiving books from two local organizations that hope the effort will inspire lifelong readers.
The Indianapolis Public Library and United Way of Central Indiana are giving away 180,000 books as part of their Early Reader Club Initiative.
United Way CEO Anne Murtlow says it’s a way to making reading cool for those who don’t do it a lot at home.
"The more they read, the more likely it is that they are going to hit something that interests them and then that will snowball to more and more interesting reading," said Murtlow. "But, I think also, just having your own book ‒ the excitement these children had when they got their book and they realized it was going to be theirs and they could write their name in it. It was theirs. It was something they could take home and look over and over again and perhaps take to their mom or dad." The program is for children six and under.
Library CEO Jackie Nytes says she believes getting children into reading at that age sets them up to be better overall learners.
"We've got to get books in the hands of kids," she said. "You've got to get them in their homes. They've got to be around. They've got to be seen as something that you do. Kids model their behaviors that they see and they do what is available to them."
The program also allows children to take home one book a month from the library branches and during mobile deliveries.
"It's this notion of building a habit and helping children believe that reading is cool, reading is fun, I can own a book, this is mine. It deals with pride and things like that, too," said Nytes. "We are really trying to hit on a bunch of different cylinders to get this very formative, basic work started."
About 6,000 children are expected to sign up for the first phase. The goal is to ultimately serve about 15,000 families.