by Carol Lotz-Felix, Project Chairperson

The Day Care Literacy Project was started in 2004 with monies donated by Penny and Henry Fuerzeig, who are committed to the concept that most of what children learn is learned before they are four years old. Over the years the project has been funded by Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI), Rotary and private donations and now consists of over 500 books geared to ages two to five.

Volunteers visit the centers weekly and loan packets of five books which they will exchange each week. They read at least two books to the group, emphasizing child participation, verbalization and dramatic reading. The first goal, of course, is to engage the children and make books interesting and exciting. The secondary goal is to model for the teachers so they too can involve the children with books.

The children are wonderfully engaged, ask for favorites, recognize covers, can recite several books by heart and truly do mean the slogan when they chant, ‘We Love Books’. In the three or four years a child is in a center that we service they will be introduced to a tremendous children’s literature experience.

The teachers are buying their own copies of favorites for their classrooms and this year I found they requested specific books to use with their themes. One class with all Spanish speaking children and two English only teachers used our picture vocabulary books for the first three months. Sadly, Headstart did not provide appropriate materials but we were able to fill the gap.

After completing the eleventh year for this program we have repaired, reorganized, relabeled and re-bagged the 106 book sets in preparation for greeting the children again in September. No loss this year and we only needed to replace four books that simply wore out. (The ever popular Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, The Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks and Callaloo)

We did lose several volunteers from last year but still managed to service over 375 children in seven centers: Kids, Bright Stars, Handy Spandy, Savan Headstart, Minetta Mitchell Headstarts, Future Leaders, and New Testament.

Many thanks to our generous volunteers: Gita Rose, Diane Windisch, and Sandy Tudos. We always need more volunteers; there are so many centers with almost no books. The response is awesome, the personal rewards incredible and the outcome beyond measurable value.

If you would like to participate as a volunteer, please call Carol Lotz-Felix 340 643 5377. You need to be able to visit a center convenient to you for an hour between 9-11 am. We make the introductions and provide the books.