Barrow Book Partnership Promotes Early Literacy Development

The Barrow Book Partnership (BBP) recently celebrated its first anniversary of service to the Barrow County community. Over the course of the last year, the BBP has distributed nearly 6,000 books to local children and their families, and has registered over 300 individuals for library cards.

In the fall of 2015, the BBP began creating a new model for promoting early literacy development for the youngest Barrow children in targeted populations. The BBP is a unique, dual approach community partnership formed to promote and encourage early literacy in Barrow County’s children from newborn to age 5.

The group is comprised of the following community partners: the Barrow County School System; Piedmont Regional Library System including Auburn, Statham, and Winder libraries; Barrow County Health Department; Barrow Family Connection; Adult Literacy Barrow; Lanier Tech; The Winder Clothes Closet-Thrift Store’s Book Room; and the Barrow Community Foundation Inc.

“In 2016, the combined effort of the BBP partners, clubs, churches, businesses, and individuals making monetary and in-kind donations further affirm our community’s commitment to Barrow’s children,” said Ellen Petree, BPP co-founder. “Thank you to everyone for supporting this ongoing early literacy program that is helping shape our children’s learning foundation for life.”

Research confirms brain size triples during the first three years of a child’s life, and by age 5 the child has acquired 90 percent of adult brain size. From infancy to age 5, the child’s learning foundation is established, so an enriched environment of talking, reading, and positively interacting with children is crucial for their brain development.

Having age appropriate books in the home is necessary for each stage of a child’s literacy development. The dual approach of BBP not only provides free, age-appropriate books for young children to keep at home, but also provides local library information and advocacy to encourage families to sign up for the full range of free materials and services located at public libraries.

Renee Johnson, one of the children’s librarians that speaks to families at the Health Department every Monday, is excited about the interactions she has had with families through the BBP. “The Barrow Book Partnership is making a difference,” she said. “We are able to help people realize the library is a vibrant community resource they have access to and where they are welcome.”

The BBP serves four main populations: children in the WIC program at the Barrow County Health Department; Barrow County School System Child Find children; BCSS Pre-K Lottery registrants; and Barrow County’s foster children. Children ages 0-5 are given one age-appropriate book quarterly for a total of four a year to keep at home and are given the opportunity to sign up for a library card.

For more information about the program, contact BCSS School and Community Relations Specialist Ellen Petree at or 770-867-4527 or Piedmont Regional Library System Director Beth McIntyre at at 706-367-9399, extension 1180. Follow the BPP on Facebook.

Kelli McDaniel
Assistant Director, Piedmont Regional Library System