On December 1, 2019 the JaxKids Book Club marks its 15th year anniversary. Distributing more than a million books to young children in Duval County, the innovative literacy program has helped develop critical early learning skills in Jacksonville’s youngest residents, preparing them for success in kindergarten and beyond.
JaxKids Book Club, a public-private partnership managed by the Kids Hope Alliance, is free to all Duval County 4 and 5 -year-olds. The initiative improves early literacy and school readiness skills by putting high-quality books and early learning tools into the hands of pre-kindergarten Jacksonville children and their families. Club materials encourage families to instill literacy as a core value in the home and emphasize the importance of reading with children every day.
Since the program’s inception in 2004, JaxKids Book Club has provided free, custom-created educational books and early learning materials to more than 130,000 local children. Book Club members receive a free reusable book bag filled with a set of age-appropriate books written about various historical, geographical and cultural aspects of Jacksonville. The books are accompanied by a flat Pete, a bookmark and are distributed at the end of Pre-Kindergarten to help lesson summer learning loss.
In its decade-long history, JaxKids Book Club has helped instill a love of reading and important pre-kindergarten learning skills in its members. It has also garnered national recognition, marking Jacksonville as a pioneer in early literacy and serving as a model for similar programs throughout the United States. Nineteen states and 40 municipalities have consulted with Children’s Commission officials to create similar early literacy initiatives.
During its early years, JaxKids Book Club was funded through a combination of city and private dollars. In 2011, with the city facing historic budget challenges, the club transitioned to a public-private model, with corporate sponsors underwriting all program costs except administration, which was provided by the Kids Hope Alliance. Without the generous support of these public-spirited corporations/entities/organizations, the program would not be in existence today. (For a complete list of these local heroes, https://jaxkidsbookclub.net/sponsors/).
Registration for this year’s program begins December 15, 2019 and runs through June 2020. All Duval County children who are 4 years old by Sept. 1, 2019 and who will be entering kindergarten in 2020 are eligible to join. Parents and childcare providers can register their children by going to http://maps.coj.net/jaxkidsbookclub/mBC_Welcome.aspx. Parents of children enrolled in VPK centers do not need to register, as these children are already signed up as part of their enrollment. For more information about the JaxKids Book Club, or to register, visit http://maps.coj.net/jaxkidsbookclub/mBC_Welcome.aspx or email firstname.lastname@example.org.