Tri-Cities families receive book donations to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions

KENNEWICK, Wash. —  For many families throughout the Tri-Cities, 2021 signaled a newfound commitment to reading as part of their New Year’s resolutions. The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia is giving them the means to see their goals through.

In the days leading up to January 20, representatives from the non-profit are delivering goodie bags filled with 12 books for children ages 0-to-9.

The foundation’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Barnes, originally expected to deliver around 100 sets of books to the community. To her surprise, the Resolution Read program received 1,000 registrations in just six days. That included approx. 600 requests for deliveries throughout Benton and Franklin Counties.

“I truly am so happy and a bit astonished,” Barnes said. “The Children’s Reading Foundation has been a part of this community for 25 years, but to see the amount of response we’ve had to make that commitment to reading 20 minutes every day is heartwarming — Especially at this time where families might be struggling.”

With only nine employees, the foundation has relied on a hardworking team that includes volunteers residing throughout the Tri-Cities. The foundation’s Team Read Director, Meggan Tjarks, made note of a record-breaking 80,000-book anonymous donation that made the widescale event possible.

“An amazing amount of people have decided to take this negative thing that was happening and make something great out of it by donating books; by donating money to allow us to have programs like this,” Tjarks said. “It makes my heart soar.”

While the foundation has been a staple of the Tri-Cities for over 20 years, support has grown exponentially over the course of 2020.

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“To see the amount of response we’ve had to make that commitment to reading 20 minutes every day is heartwarming — Especially at this time where families might be struggling,” Barnes said.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial to get books into the hands of young children. Many of the recipients are families and children that are considered vulnerable — Whether it be due to financial, educational or personal roadblocks. Providing books for the Tri-Cities’ next generation is a great way to invest in a brighter future.

As previously mentioned, this is a crucial time in these kids’ lives in terms of both education and personal development.

“Birth through third grade — That is the most important time in a child’s life when it comes to literacy and when it comes to developing a child’s self-worth.”

Distance learning hasn’t been easy for teachers or parents, but the children are those most impacted by it. Without the physical, in-person resources of a classroom, it becomes more difficult to learn. Though many kids in the Tri-Cities and nationwide have been equipped with electronic tools to help them, it doesn’t carry the same weight as an actual book.

“Being able to have a physical, tangible book that a child can hold — That doesn’t have a backlight, that is not additional screen time, that is giving the child additional time to get away from the screen — is absolutely essential,” Barnes said.

The books cover a variety of topics for children to explore. As you may guess, kids have been particularly responsive to books about animals.

However, one topic that’s struck a particular chord for many families has been grandparents, who are the topic of two books included in the kit. Since families have been forced to adjust for COVID-19, many children are spending little-to-no time with older family members. These books exemplify the value of spending quality time with grandparents.

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By making the reading commitment based on a resolution, a concept formulated by Tjarks, The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia is calling on Tri-Cities parents to make as much of a commitment as their children.

“Why not have a shared resolution together?” Barnes said.

People who registered to pick up their books in-person will do so at the Numerica Pavilion on January 20.

For more information on The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia, you can visit their website: (Read20Minutes.com). They can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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