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Why It Is Important


United Way Early Childhood Literacy


An average of 150 children under the age of 5 are signed up each month! Over 2,000 children in Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner, Winchendon, Templeton, Ayer and Shirley are receiving books in their homes each month.  The demographic breakdown is…


Why is it important?

In middle-incomes homes – there are 13 age-appropriate books per child, on average.  In low-income homes – the average is ONE book per 300 children.

Research has shown that having books in the home, along with pre-K reading, improves kindergarten readiness, which improves 3rd grade reading skills, which leads to improved graduation rates.

We have targeted towns with lower graduation rates and high poverty rates, in an effort to jump-start a lifetime of learning, by helping children in these communities begin kindergarten on an even playing field with their peers.

What are we trying to accomplish?

In partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, United Way of North Central Massachusetts has a vision of providing every child with their own library of books.  For a contribution of $30 a year, children receive one age-appropriate book each month from birth to their fifth birthday.  Based on a substantial body of research, it is our belief that providing children with books will facilitate early learning skills, foster excitement about reading, and build strong relationships between caregivers and children. 

The goal of United Way’s early education effort is to increase the percentage of children who enter kindergarten with the vocabulary, pre-reading and social-emotional skills they need to succeed in school and in life.  

How we work to achieve our goals

We have created a coalition of the willing – including corporate partners, community organizations, individual volunteers – all willing to be part of the movement to increase early literacy levels in our region.

To support the work that United Way of North Central Massachusetts is doing, like Dolly Parton Imagination Library, please consider giving.