Book In Every Home

Reading for a lifetime -- Ronda Dunn, honorary chair of this year’s “Book in Every Home” campaign, reads one of several books Tuesday to youngsters enrolled in the Carbondale Head Start center.  Organizers hope to collect 2,000 new preschool books appropriate for children 3-5 years old during the “Read to Me Now and I’ll Read for My Lifetime” campaign that runs through May 1. SIU Head Start centers are in Carbondale, Carterville, Marion and Murphysboro. Dunn is the wife of SIU President Randy Dunn. (Photo by Russell Bailey)

March 03, 2015

Head Start begins ‘Book in Every Home’ campaign

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- In reading, as with building a house, a strong foundation will bring a lifetime of enjoyment. 

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Head Start program launched its “Book in Every Home” campaign. Longtime educator Ronda Dunn, wife of SIU President Randy Dunn, is chair for this year’s drive, which runs through May 1. 

The goal of the campaign, “Read to Me Now and I’ll Read for My Lifetime,” is to collect enough books so that each of the 400 children enrolled in five Head Start centers will receive at least five new books to take home and call their own. Children ages three to five attend Head Start centers in Carbondale, Carterville, Marion and Murphysboro. 

“The ability to read provides children immeasurable opportunities to learn anything about everything,” Dunn said. “Our responsibility as adults is to be sure books are available to every child.  Books inspire dreams for the future.” 

SIU’s Head Start program is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the national program’s start in the summer of 1965. Nationally respected for its success, the SIU Carbondale Head Start program -- now in its 44th year -- is one of only a few university-related Head Start organizations in the country. The program focuses on meeting the social, intellectual, emotional and physical needs of preschool children from income-eligible families. 

A triple alumna of SIU, Dunn is a graduate of Benton High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration, a master’s degree in workforce education and development along with a certification in business education. Dunn completed her doctorate in educational administration at the university in 2003.  

In her early career, Dunn worked for Prudential and First Bank of Carbondale but after continuing her education, she became a business education and computer science teacher for the Herrin school district.  She was then hired as Williamson County technical education director and later appointed the regional superintendent of schools for Franklin and Williamson counties. 

Following a move to Murray, Ky., where her husband was president of Murray State University, Ronda Dunn worked for the Kentucky Department of Education.  As an educational recovery director, she supervised school improvement efforts at high schools within the western 36 counties of Kentucky.  

Linda J. Flowers, interim Head Start director, said research shows that it is difficult for young children to catch up if they are behind in reading skills when they are in third grade. Children in pre-school age range are “learning the most the fastest,” she said. 

“At the preschool level you are laying the foundation for what children are going to be able to achieve later,” Flowers said. It is also important that parents, siblings and relatives provide the time and encouragement for children to read. That includes having discussions with children about what they read. 

“Extending a child’s vocabulary is important for language and literacy development,” she said. 

In choosing a new book for young children ages 3-5, please consider the following:

  • Illustrations -- Large, clear colorful pictures that relate to the words.
  • Content -- Books that repeat words or phrases and those with rhyming words.
  • Text -- The story should be easy to follow and understand.
  • Design -- The pages in the book should be uncluttered. The print should be large and legible.
  • Language -- Books written in both Spanish and English are acceptable. 

There are 23 drop box locations on campus and throughout the Head Start communities. On campus the following locations are:

  • SIU President’s office, Stone Center
  • Chancellor’s office, Anthony Hall
  • SIU Alumni Association, Colyer Hall
  • SIU School of Law library
  • Intercollegiate Athletics office, Lingle Hall
  • Office of Student Involvement, Student Center
  • Student Health Services
  • Student Recreation Center
  • SIU Carbondale Head Start Central Office, 1900 N. Illinois Ave., Carbondale. 

Participating businesses are: Bank of Carbondale, Carbondale; Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Carbondale;  First Southern Bank locations in Carbondale and Murphysboro; Murdale True Value & Just Ask Rental, Carbondale; Old National Bank locations in Carbondale, Carterville and Marion; Silkworm, Murphysboro; SIU Credit Union, Carbondale; Target, Marion, and Wal-Mart SuperCenter locations in Carbondale, Marion and Murphysboro. 

In addition to bringing books, tax-deductible monetary donations to buy new books are also welcome. Checks should be made out to the SIU Foundation with “Book in Every Home” written in the memo area. The SIU Foundation address is 1235 Douglas Drive, Colyer Hall, Mail Code 6805, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901.