More than a thousand books distributed this year

Outreach Manager Joan Whitson of the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, contacted Historic City News in St Augustine last week to report on this year’s book-bag distribution to three and four-year-old children in St. Johns, Putnam, Clay, Bradford, Baker and Nassau counties.

According to Whitson, in 2016, more than 1000 book bags were distributed to local child care and preschool classrooms. Each bag consisted of 10 age-appropriate books as well as information for parents about the importance of reading to children.

“At the Early Learning Coalition, we want to provide books for every child, especially those from families with lower incomes so they all can have the same advantages that reading brings,” Whitson said.

Coalition volunteers distribute the book-bags every fall and spring season, and each distribution features various children’s book characters. This year’s characters included Eric Litwin’s “Pete the Cat” and “Curious George”.

Studies show that the single biggest factor in improved school readiness scores and vocabulary in young children is reading to them at an early age.

The program is funded through grants, book donations and donations from local civic groups. Whitson invited Historic City News readers interested in conducting a book drive for the Coalition to contact her at 904-342-2267 or

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