United Way & Dolly Parton bringing books to Southwest Michigan kids' doors

NOW: United Way & Dolly Parton bringing books to Southwest Michigan kids’ doors

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- March is National Reading Month, but unfortunately, literacy rates are continuing to decline.

One way to help curb the trend, though, is getting kids more access to books during that critical reading age.

“We have 56 percent of third graders in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties who are not reading proficient – that third-grade benchmark is really are going to determine a child’s ability to comprehend material the rest of their years in school,” said Sharon Polfus, Director of Major Gifts at United Way of Southwest Michigan.

Since 2009, 7,000 Southwest Michigan kids have gotten a book in their hands each month.

It’s thanks to the United Way partnering with country music star Dolly Parton – who in these instances – wears the title of ‘The Book Lady.’

“When a child enrolls in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, they receive a free, age-appropriate book mailed to their home every month until their fifth birthday,” said Polfus.

United Way of Southwest Michigan hopes to increase their enrollment by 200 students this month.

If you go to their website, just $25 pays for an entire year of books for one child.

To sponsor them for all five years, it’ll only cost you $125.

“You can imagine with that many children participating, how expensive that can get for United Way, so we’re just asking the community to help change a child’s life and put them on the road for success,” said Polfus.

Parents who would like to enroll their child in the program can go uwsm.org where both the donation form and application form for children are. 

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