Special to the Ely Times


The earlier a child learns to read the more they excel in school and throughout their life. Children who are read to in infancy and toddlerhood develop cognitive abilities that exceed their peers who go without this literary interaction. Brain science supports these ideas and are vital parenting tools to help children grow as healthy-minded critical thinkers. Early literacy is the key to a child’s success. With that in mind, White Pine County children now have access to almost two tons of books that were hauled in this week and distributed to local schools.

In efforts to increase childhood literacy, and in time for the beginning of the new 2021-2022 school year, the White Pine County Library Board; in coordination with the Public Education Foundation, Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall and her office, The United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra, and the Nevada Northern Railway Foundation, made it possible to bring thousands of new and used books into our area school libraries. Little People’s Head Start,David E. Norman Elementary, McGill Elementary, Ely Learning Bridge Charter School, the White Pine Middle School and White Pine High School, as well as the Lund School and Baker, were each gifted hundreds of fiction and nonfiction books to support their students in learning. Dr. Jerri LynnWilliams-Harper, Ely Learning Bridge’s administrator, said, “Parents that can’t afford books can really use these gifts. It was wonderful to see our students so excited for books. They were carrying them out by the arm full at our open house.”

The tonnage of books delivered into the community is the White Pine County Library’s latest endeavor to increase literacy and reading in White Pine. This past December, the Nevada Northern Railway sponsored the White Pine County Library’s partnership with The Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which mails books to children in our county from birth to age five for free. Vice Chair of the White Pine County Library board and local teacher, Shadrach Michaels, has previously commented on the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, saying, “This is one of our best programs and anyone in White Pine County can sign up their child for books to be delivered right to their door.  We’ve enrolled over one hundred White Pine County children in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library so far. We want every eligible child in our county to use this program because you can’t get better than free.”

Mark Bassett, Director of the Nevada Northern Railway Foundation, continues their support of literacy in White Pine County, covering the costs of the shipping and handling of this large load of literature, as well as helping cover costs of Dolly Parton Imagination Library book mailings. “Reading is fundamental and we are happy to help sponsor White Pine County’s children in this.  Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is an amazing asset to the community.” Bassett said.

Reading proficiencies among White Pine County schools are below state and national averages, according to the Nevada Department of Education. The National Education Association (NEA) recently ranked White Pine County Schools as being the bottom performing district in a state already ranked among the lowest in the nation for education. The NEA’s rankings are based on the average amount of spending per pupil, and paints a stark picture of the challenges our area teachers, school administrators, and parents all face in this new school year. The threat of Covid-19 outbreaks and closures that lead to virtual or distance learning will only exacerbate the learning challenges the most disenfranchised students experience in one of the most remote school districts in the nation. Reading books early on and throughout childhood helps bridge such gaps in curriculum instruction.

Area schools were not the only entities to benefit from the massive distribution of titles. The White Pine County Library also increased their shelved collections of new children’s books, with over sixty titles that young readers are sure to enjoy; ranging from 50 Wacky Inventions Throughout History to The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon, The Elena of Avalor series, The Avengers series, and several new Spanish Language titles. Adult readers simultaneously gained their own large shipment of new fiction and nonfiction titles as well. Michaels says, “The White Pine County Library is all about helping our community, with a mission to get more books into the hands of more readers. The addition of so many new and fresh books into our schools and libraries means readers of all ages have more options when looking for titles and content that will excite and stimulate their interests.” 

If you would like to be a donor and sponsor a child being able to receive no-cost books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, please contact Mark Bassett at the Nevada Northern Railway Foundation: 775- 289-2085.  White Pine County residents can sign up any infant under 5 years old for free books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library or you can make your own contribution for new book donations at the White Pine County Library main branch location, 950 Campton St. in Ely or by calling 775-293-6900.