Early Literacy

GREAT START EARLY LITERACY COUNCIL promotes a culture of reading for everyone.  Reading skills are indicators of academic success for students of all ages. Our families must be given an opportunity to have books in their homes.  With today’s economy it is not always in the budget to purchase children’s books.  Promoting families reading together in our communities is a powerful and actionable goal that fits into Great Start’s mission and purpose.

Great Start is proud to implement two leading national early literacy initiatives that are serving over 1,500 children in Dickinson and Iron Counties:


Local medical doctors, Alexis Whaley, MD and Beth Schroeder, MD are amazing supporters of children reading at a young age. Dr. Whaley presented Dr. Schroeder with the prestigious Great Start Spotlight Award for her dedication and leadership in REACH OUT AND READ. Dr. Alexis Whaley, a well known pediatrician from the Dickinson Healthcare System, strongly believes in the positive changes children experience  from  participation  in  the  Reach  Out  and  Read  early  literacy  program.    Dr.  Whaley and Dr. Schroeder understand the huge  impact  Reach Out and Read has on children’s school readiness and kindergarten readiness. Dr. Whaley cited that longitudinal studies show that children participating in the Reach Out and Read Program scored significantly higher on language, vocabulary and word expression tests.

In medical clinics sponsoring Read Out and Read, children receive a book each time they have medical check ups, along with valuable information on reading aloud and reading with family members. The more visits children have with Reach Out and Read pediatricians results in higher academic testing scores and the more improved expressive and receptive  language  skill!

NEWSFLASH: Parents  who  had  children  in  Reach  Out  and  Read report that they read books together as a family more often and they increased the number of books in their home, along with many families starting a home book library.

In collaboration with the Great Start, the Dickinson Area Healthcare System and the Dickinson County Hospital Foundation, Dr. Whaley has started up Reach Out and Read Programs in Norway, Florence, Crystal Falls, Iron River and Wausaukee. Congratulations to Dr. Alexis Whaley and Dr. Beth Schroeder for bringing about great early literacy improvements for young children.

The Dickinson Iron Great Start Early Literacy Council collaborates and works with families to promote the following Early Literacy Council 2017 to 2018 –


•  Dolly Parton Imagination Library
•  Reach Out and Read
•  Raise A Reader
•  Home Visitor Books For Visits
•  Child Care Provider Books In Bags
•  B.O.B. – Books On Bus
•  Book Mailboxes
•  Community Event Books
•  Parent Strong Meeting Books
•  Reading Circles
•  March Reading Month Classroom Readers
•  March Book Drive


When children are enrolled in the Imagination Library, free books are mailed to children’s homes monthly from ages 0 to age 5.  By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes,  children become excited about books and they feel the magic that books can create.  The Dolly Parton Imagination Library ensures that every child has books, regardless of family income. The only requirement for participation in the Dickinson Iron Dolly Parton Imagination Library is for parents/guardians to complete two forms: (1) Imagination Library Registration Form; and (2) Imagination Library Program Survey.


When children read at a young age, lifelong reading habits are formed.  True to Great Start’s early literacy motto:  Once a reader, always a reader!  Since the initial program launch in the United States, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gone from just a few dozen books to over 80,000,000 books mailed to children in the United States, into Canada and across the proverbial pond into the United Kingdom! Currently over 1600 local communities provide the Imagination Library to over 1,000,000 children each and every month. Already statistics and independent reports have shown Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library drastically improves early childhood literacy for children enrolled in the program. Further studies have shown improved reading test scores.  All Imagination Library Children’s Books are research-based and age-appropriate books and published by Penguin Publishing.  Penguin Publishing is a global leader in children’s publishing.


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