First stop is Colleen’s house. Colleen is a grandmother who is raising her 20-month-old grandson, Owen. “Right now, Owen’s favorite book is The Minosaur,” she says. “We read it together daily. All I have to say is ’Mine, mine, mine,’ and Owen drops whatever he is doing and races to his room to locate the book and bring it back to me to read it AGAIN! He would much rather have the books from Imagination Ashe than the Dr. Seuss books handed down to him by his older siblings.” Every chance she gets, Colleen spreads the word about Imagination Ashe to her family, friends and co-workers. She wants other Ashe County residents to know that they too can be a part of such a wonderful program.
Let’s pop in at Lisa’s home. Lisa’s face lights up when asked if her one-year-old son, Marty, enjoys his books from Imagination Ashe. “Oh, he does, he does,” she says. She beams as she describes Marty’s love for the books. “He gets so excited when his books arrive. He’s into his dinosaur stage now and his favorite book is The Minosaur.” Lisa is expecting her second child in less than two months. “I can’t wait to sign up my new baby,” the young mom says.
In Cindy’s home, you will find a very active and lively three-year-old named Haleigh. Cindy is a single mom who is raising her young daughter alone. “Haleigh got signed up for Imagination Ashe when we were at Christmas in July,” she explains. “She was just a little baby then, and now she has more books than we know what to do with!” Haleigh’s favorite books are the ones about the llamas. “If I say ‘llama, llama,’ Haleigh will automatically say back ‘he is “mad at his mama!’” Haleigh can recognize some letters, some numbers and rhymes. Cindy is very grateful for Imagination Ashe. “If it weren’t for Imagination Ashe, I could never have afforded these books on my own.”
Our visit to Michael and Natalie’s home begins at their mailbox where both of their young sons literally jump for joy when they spy the Imagination Ashe books in today’s mail. Immediately the plastic is ripped off and the boys ask “Can we read it now?” John David, 6, has graduated from our program, but two-year-old Ethan is actively enrolled. John David’s favorite book is Gobble, Gobble, Crash. His dad, Michael, reads the story with such amazing vocal expression that it sends John David into contagious laughter. Ethan’s favorite book is Read to Tiger. His favorite part of the story is when Tiger becomes the mighty Ninja. Repeatedly Ethan will reenact what the tiger does in the story. With his little hands punching the air, Ethan will let out a bold “Hi-ya!” The boys’ mom, Natalie, says that the books have enriched her sons’ lives in so many ways. She cites language development, writing, and learning how to hold a book and turn pages as a few of the skills they are developing. Natalie says “Part of the enjoyment as parents is the physical/emotional bond that is created while we cuddle with them, as we discover a whole new world together.” Both parents enthusiastically affirm that the books are teaching their boys that reading is a fun and enjoyable experience.