bookshelf

The Goodyear PebbleCreek Rotary Foundation is tackling literacy this summer as an official affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. 

As part of the program, the foundation will be able to provide age-appropriate books to children from birth to age five. 

The foundation isn’t stopping there. Joan Smith, president of Goodyear PebbleCreek Rotary, said the foundation will also partner with the Avondale Elementary School District, Estrella Mountain Community College and libraries in Avondale, Goodyear and Litchfield Park to help introduce the program to families.  

AESD Superintendent Dr. Betsy Hargrove said she is thrilled to have the opportunity to help children in Avondale enhance their literacy skills. 

“The DPIL program is such a powerful way to engage children in early literacy and language development,” Hargrove said. “Research has found that early indicators of success in reading are dependent on the number of books in the home, opportunities to be read to and engage with books.” 

As for EMCC, Professor Teresa Crosno is developing a platform through the college’s teacher institute to help the children improve their reading skills. They’re also working on a program to give parents various ways to encourage their children to read and steps they can use to motivate and create an importance of reading in the household. 

The program will consist of 15 families who will participate in interactive lessons on how to reinforce early literacy skills. The lessons will be led by EMCC student volunteers. 

Jim Frey, the Rotary fundraising chair and foundation board member, said the goal of all partnerships is to help children improve their reading skills at a young age, ultimately setting them up for success in the classroom. 

“The program is made to encourage the parents to read with their children every day,” Frey said. “One main goal of the National Library is to get the kids ready for kindergarten by reading to them and showing them the importance of reading. It is really important. It’s amazing that different studies have shown us that it really does make a difference.”

As a board member, Frey said he’s proud of the partnerships the program has created to reach as many children as possible. 

“It’s one thing to mail a free book every month to a child, but our program, we’re working with the college to help kids with their reading skills, as well as the parents, showing the parents the importance of them reading to their children, ways that they can encourage their children to read. It is remarkable that it does develop these kids to be better kindergarten students,” Frey said. 

Language and literacy skills of Arizona children are significantly behind children in other states. Only 46% of children can pass the third-grade state literacy test. 

Frey added that the foundation is targeting children age five and younger because the basic neural pathways develop for language and early literacy skills in the first three years. He stressed that is why it’s so important to get as many children signed up in this program as possible.

The Imagination Library is free. Parents who sign up their children will receive free books monthly. As the program grows, it will be available for children in Goodyear and Litchfield Park. 

“It’s all about getting those books in the hands of those kids and getting the parents to read with them and there are a lot of positive things that come out of that, and the kids are so excited because the book is actually mailed to them in their name,” Frey said. “It then turns out to be a family bonding experience.”

The Goodyear PebbleCreek Rotary Club and Foundation continues to serve the community in additional ways, such as their recent food drive that collected 33,768 pounds worth of food.

The club has raised more than $65,000 in charitable donations for organizations such as youth, community and international services. 

“Our club is dedicated to ‘Service Above Self’ and we partner with 1.2 million other Rotarians around the world who are committed to truth, fairness, goodwill, friendship and enriching communities,” said Joan Smith, president of Goodyear PebbleCreek Rotary.

For more information on the literacy program, contact Jim Frey at

jimfrey8235@gmail.com or 415-271-0714. Or for information on the Goodyear Rotary, visit goodyearrotary.org.