Paulding County Families “Cook with Books”

Jazminn Gibson and her son recently got together in their kitchen to bake. While he kneaded the dough, she read to him. As the aroma of fresh bread baking filled the air, he sat down to continue the book—which was provided by their local library—along with the bread recipe and ingredients.

Themed kits filled with books and activities are distributed to Paulding County families through the My Little Library Program led by Get Paulding Reading, the county’s Get Georgia Reading—Campaign for Grade-Level Reading community organization.

The current series, “Cook with Books,” includes a featured book of the month along with a recipe and ingredients for a kid-friendly dish families can prepare together.

“The My Little Library Program has helped me learn just how much my little guy loves to cook,” said Gibson. “The bags have helped my little one get more active in listening with the hands-on activity each month. I love the connections the kits have helped build to set him up for the future.”

Four libraries hand out 50 kits each month, totaling 2,200 kits since the program kicked off in May 2021. Patrons like Diane Hagler look forward to each new book and activity.

“Get Paulding Reading has provided such great experiences for me and my grandsons,” said Hagler. “We’ve always enjoyed reading and being in the kitchen. So, when My Little Library combined our favorite activities, we were excited.”

Jennifer Ramsey, New Georgia Library children’s specialist, said one young patron brought her a cupcake he made with the recipe and ingredients he took home.

“I love to see the excitement and listen to the kids tell me what they made. It’s been a great way to not only build their own little libraries at home, but to spend time together as a family,” said Ramsey, who enjoys the kits with her son and nephews. “My 4-year-old nephew loves measuring and mixing the ingredients together. He tells me to let him do it. He makes a mess—but that’s one memory I will never forget.”

The Paulding County School District was awarded $3.9 million in year one of a five-year Literacy for Learning, Living and Leading in Georgia (L4GA) grant in 2020.

“We began to explore ways to make books, literacy resources, and parent training available to families with children from birth through age 5,” said Get Paulding Reading L4GA Community Partnerships Coordinator Karen Woodlief. “We created Get Paulding Reading with all of our community partners.”

The school district teamed up with Paulding Family Connection, Paulding County Library System, Babies Can’t Wait, Family Alliance of Paulding, Paulding County Department of Health, and Wellstar Pediatric Emergency Services.

“While we all come from different professions, we have one common vision—to get great books and resources into the hands of Paulding families,” said Woodlief.

The concept for the My Little Library Program originated when Dallas Library’s Children’s Specialist Morgan Wilson was sharing with Woodlief the books and activities she had planned for storytime.

“The books were distributed to participants to use during storytime, but then they were turned back in at the end,” said Woodlief. “As we spoke, the idea of building home libraries with a book of the month came about.”

The libraries began handing out a series of fun, engaging books. Feedback from participating families was overwhelmingly positive, so the distribution evolved into themed activity kits, kicking off with “Cook with Books” in November.

Future series include “Planting Literacy,” featuring gardening activities and books about plants and “Banking with Books,” which will help children understand the basics of money.

The program also provides opportunities for parents to participate in free, virtual trainings, which focus on read aloud strategies, language nutrition, and creating positive attitudes toward reading.

“By offering books, learning activities, and literacy trainings to families, we’re building the foundation for a positive learning climate and providing access to high-quality early childhood information,” said Woodlief. “We’re so thankful for the L4GA funding that has made this program possible.”

Check out the latest“Cook with Books” recipe card.