Community Impact Education Pathway Faces of Success: Kayden Jones
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Title Education Pathway

Faces of Success: Kayden Jones

Reading to your son or daughter before they are born sounds simple enough, but some parents don’t take the time to do it. Razel and Camille Jones made this simple act a priority before their daughter arrived three years ago.

“We have always read aloud to Kayden,” said Jones. “We wanted to establish a passion for literacy early in her life.”

Kayden’s passion for literacy has only grown stronger, thanks to her visits to the local library, as well as her enrollment in the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee program. United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation partner to operate the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee program. It provides one book per month to children from birth through age 5 in Davidson, Williamson and Sumner Counties at no cost to families, regardless of income.

“One of the librarians told us about the program last year. It is great that there are programs out there that focus on childhood literacy.”

If a child is enrolled in the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee from birth until their fifth birthday, they will receive a total of 60 books. Since United Way became the local partner in 2013, Middle Tennessee children have received more than 1.1 million books. Jones enjoys Kayden’s reaction every time she receives her new book in the mail.

“When we check the mail, she is usually in her car seat. After I tell her about her new book, she usually kicks her feet against the seat to demonstrate her excitement. She can’t wait to read her new books.”

Research indicates that children who are read to regularly at home hear twice as many words every year and have 1/3 larger vocabulary by age 3 than children who are not read to at home. This is important because children who have not developed basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 - 4 times more likely to drop out in later years. Jones appreciates the difference the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee has already made for Kayden.

“We combine reading with teaching her about letters and sight words. When we read a book, she recognizes some of the words; her vocabulary is also really advanced already.”

In September, Jones read an email about United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s Imagination Library Instagram Contest. The contest was designed to celebrate the program’s longevity in Middle Tennessee and also feature some of the children who have benefited from enrollment. Jones knew she had to enter Kayden in the contest.

“I take pictures of her every day. When I decided to enter her in the contest, I found her favorite reading spot in the entire house, took a few pictures, and I submitted them.”

Kayden won this year’s contest; she received a $50 gift card to be used for books. Her family also won two tickets to the 2016 Reading Roundup Fundraiser Shindig, benefiting the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee, as well as a large form display featuring her winning image.

“As a family, we really enjoy entering contests. Kayden was really excited when I explained to her that she won.”

You can help Middle Tennessee children get excited about reading by investing in the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee program. A $60 investment provides books to a child enrolled in the program from birth until their fifth birthday. As we celebrate #GivingTuesday — a global day dedicated to generosity and giving back— give the gift of books and help a child develop a passion for literacy.

To give to the Imagination Library of Middle Tennessee, please visit: https://www.unitedwaynashville.org/donate

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