Reindeer Run for Reading brings books to children

By Wayne Bryan Published November 14, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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BRYANT — There is still time for runners to join the race to bring books to children in Saline County.

On Saturday, Imagination Library of Saline County will present the fifth annual Reindeer Run for Reading, featuring a 5K run for adults and a special 1K run for families. Fees paid by the runners help fund the Imagination Library program that sends free books every month to children younger than 5 years old.

Developed by country-music star Dolly Parton and her Dolly Parton Foundation, Imagination Library sends a book a month to children under 5 at no cost. All parents have to do is sign up their children, and they will receive the books until the child’s 5th birthday. This creates a home library of up to 60 books for a child before he or she starts to school.

“The goal is to be able to support the enrollment of every child in Saline County,” said Pam Toler, president of Imagine Library for Saline County and an early-childhood specialist at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. “Reading books to young children improves their academic and economic futures, so we will continue to work as hard as possible to ensure funds are available for as many future ILSC enrollees as possible.”

Around 7,400 children are eligible for the free books in the county. Nationally, the program is active in 950 American communities in all 50 states. Imagination Library shipped 7.65 million books in 2012. Almost 8,000 books are mailed monthly in Arkansas.

The two runs will begin at 8 a.m. at Bishop Park in Bryant. This year, runners can participate with a bit more play while on the course.

“The idea is that if adults want to play, they will tell race officials at the registration tables, and those runners will receive a plastic tape tail,” said Darline Emmons, a retired teacher from Harmony Grove and a member of the ILSC board. Boys from the Bryant High School cross-country team will be the Grinches, who will periodically chase the players, trying to grab the tape.”

Emmons said children taking part in the 1K run will have opportunities to chase specially placed Grinches, and if a child tags one, “which will happen,” she said, the child will receive a sticker. The child with the most stickers at the end of the run will receive a copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Registration forms are available at www.arkansasrunners.com and www.imaginationlibraryofsalinecounty.org. They can also be picked up at the Saline County libraries in Benton and Bryant and at The Center at Bishop Park. Fees for the children will be $15 for ages 3-12 and $25 for age 13 and older. For more information, call Krista at (501) 778-4766.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be contacted at (501) 247-6129 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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