Plant A Seed...READ!
Plant a Seed...READ! is laying the foundation for the next generation of emotionally healthy and literate children in rural Montana. The Havre-based nonprofit supports children and families by enhancing literacy, language and social/emotional skills from birth to age five. Plant a Seed...READ! serves Blaine, Hill and Phillips counties, including the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy's reservations.
Lorraine Verploegen serves as the organization's volunteer executive director, and only staff member, and is supported by a board of directors, an advisory board and representatives from county libraries. Driven by research that proves that reading to children from birth aids in vital brain development and strengthens the parent-child bond, the nonprofit strives to enable more success in the classroom and beyond through their various programs and events.
One way the nonprofit supports healthy child development and success is as a Local Champion for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for north central Montana. The Imagination Library is an international book gift-giving program for children from birth to age five that relies on Local Champions to enroll local children and pay for the books and overhead.
"Currently we have three counties involved with Plant a Seed...READ! with the main focus on getting 60% of children, from birth to age five, enrolled in the Imagination Library by 2020," writes Lorraine. "Two other counties have expressed interest in bringing the program into their counties." There are currently 600 children enrolled in the program with over 100 graduating throughout the year.
"Our second goal is to continue building Literacy Kits for childcare providers for checkout by using books to build readiness skills in literacy/language, pre-math/reasoning, and social/emotional skills," explains Lorraine. "As a partner with the Children’s Reading Foundation, we are working to implement the READY! For Kindergarten program for families with children from birth to 5. This program emphasizes 'play to learn' with age-appropriate skills, activities and materials for families." The workshops would incorporate the Imagination Library books and provide parents with a deeper understanding of their child's growth and development stages.
Plant a Seed...READ! received the 2017 Center for the Book Prize for their commitment to promoting literacy and literature in their communities. "Being a fairly new nonprofit, this impacted our credibility, mission and vision as to what our purpose was for children, families and communities," writes Lorraine. "We were inspired to take that step as a way to show the worth of our mission to community members so they in turn could make an impact by investing in their children in a positive and proactive way."
Visit www.plantaseedreadmt.org to learn more or to get involved.