Pike County leaders work to make reading more accessible to the community


PITTSFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) – Several initiatives are underway to encourage reading in Pike County.

Pike County Rotary Club President Michael Jennings said the organization plans to apply for its annual literary grant through the Rotary Club State District.

He said that in the past, the grant has funded reading tablets for children and free books.

“We haven’t applied for a grant yet,” Jennings said. “We are advised that there will be one coming out soon. So we are now trying to figure out, you know, what the needs are here in Pike County, the surrounding schools and the libraries around.

Jennings said the Rotary Club district is still counting the money from its annual literary fundraiser which involves a giveaway day at a ballpark (Cardinals vs. Cubs at Busch Stadium held Aug. 14) where proceeds from tickets go directly back into district literature. grant bucket. He said ticket sales and the needs of other clubs in the district will ultimately determine how much money, if any, they get from the literary grant this year.

“In the past it was $500 or $2,000,” Jennings said. “Sometimes you get more than you asked for, sometimes less.”

Jennings said last year the club received $750, which was more than he asked for to host an interactive read at the grand opening of King Park’s new dog park, which included a Clifford the costumed Big Red Dog, free take-home books for kids and an interactive. storyboards arranged around the paths of the park.

Pittsfield Public Library manager Sara Rudd said the community benefited immensely from the interactive story time walk in the park. She said the Clifford the Big Red Dog book decks included the story with interactive exercises children could do to stay active, making reading fun for toddlers up to age 8.

“It’s fun for the parents too,” Rudd said. “It’s an activity to do, but also a discussion to lead with the child.”

Rudd said he received money from the Rotary Club of Pike County Literary Grant to donate books to children after the walk. She said the interactive walk in the park gets children interested in reading and they often come to the library looking for the same book they read during their walk in the park.

“On Sundays the library is closed,” Rudd said. “So having these rides gives them something to do outside of these gates.”

Rudd said the library was now working to get permanent aluminum story stands in the park, which would have a sliding door to change the story each month.

She said the $7,000 investment for the 22 boards would be weatherproof and angled so a small child could easily read them and it would be year-round.

She said the idea behind it would also be to involve the community.

“A company or organization could sponsor a story,” she said. “We would work with them. They would buy a few stories and put them in the stands.

She said they also had to hire labor to place concrete slabs along the park, so grass wouldn’t grow under the stands. She said they were about $1,000 short of the money needed to complete this interactive walkway project.

Jennings said another example they used grant money for a few years ago was providing reading tablets to elementary school children in the South.

Jennings said if they get the money, they will reach out to community organizations and find out who needs it most.

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