Mont. Conclusive research has concluded that developing early
learning habits help children develop long-term success in school
every $1 invested in a child's education, Hopa Mountain's
StoryMakers Program said $8 to $17 will be made in long term public
return in "increased earnings and tax revenue, and less public
money required for remedial education, health problems and criminal
is a nonprofit organization that supports early home learning environments
by means that include giving away some 14,000 books bi-annually
in the spring and fall to children ages five and under throughout
20 rural counties and Indian reservation communities throughout
Clark, who helped form the StoryMakers Program in 2004, said that
in the last 10 to 15 years there's been an explosion of research
about the early home environment of children and what is conducive
to their success in life.
are realizing that in Montana there are a lot of very rural communities
that geographically and financially it's hard for families to have
top notch early learning tools like quality wordbooks. So StoryMakers
came about in this big rural state as an attempt to offer parents
really good early learning material in particular books."
more to just reading the book, it's really about sharing the
book." -Linda Bone
explained that in some places in Montana they would have to travel
more than 100 miles just to find a store that sold children's
books. The StoryMakers didn't think that it was fair that only
select children who were financially stable and non-rural would
be able to access tools to begin their schooling at the best private
school there is at home with their parents.
Tucker, a retired Head Start teacher who now volunteers her time
as a teacher coach, helps disperse the StoryMakers' books throughout
the Montana High-Line on the Fort Belknap Reservation.
said the feedback has been positive, and children and parents are
grateful to get the age appropriate and durable hardback books when
they tell her about their favorites.
age of a child doesn't matter if you read to them. The younger
the better, because I've always read to my children and I think
it made a difference when they went to school," Tucker said.
Mountain Executive Director Dr. Bonnie Sachatello-Sawyer said that
a lot of the ties of Native American family learning were lost historically
through the boarding school era.
of this movement of early learning at home beyond the books
is just to strengthen those family skills and competencies
that we know exists between parents and their goals for their children.
the research we now have about early learning, it's absolutely
critical that all children have the best start in life. We often
ask, why are children dropping out at the rates they do at
school?' But really, so much of a child's development
is formed in the early periods of the home. These factors directly
affect their ability to learn."
said parents are children's first teachers, and the early learning
environment they create in their home is vital for kids' success
in school and in life. She is grateful for the generous donations
Hopa Mountain has received so they can continue their work for generations
more we can encourage this and make sure that all children have
access to high quality books and rich home learning environments,
the better we are able to ensure that all children are able to have
an opportunity to succeed in school."
also hopes to get more culturally relevant books for the program
that tie into early Native learning.
Bone helps distribute StoryMakers Program books throughout the Flathead
Reservation in western Montana. She said there are plenty of ways
parents could become better involved with their children aside from
reading the age-appropriate text.
explained how one bookmark given out with the program offered ideas
on how parents and children could enjoy the books further, including
different ways to count if it was a counting book, how they could
discuss the illustrations, or how they could talk about the vocabulary
in the books.
more to just reading than the book, it's really about sharing
said being part of the euphoric local atmospheres where books were
being distributed was encouraging. She said the books also help
bridge gaps and build language skills between children and parents.
just think that anytime you get kids so excited about owning a book
so much more than a toy, it's amazing."
the Hopa Mountain Web site for more information.