Originally Published: December 26, 2012 10 p.m.
Award-winning illustrator Roberta Arenson had stacks of children's books sitting in her home studio in Prescott. She had collected the books, bearing her boldly colored imagery of merged collage and paint, throughout her 20-year career. Arenson had long decided to donate them, but wanted to make sure the books were placed in the hands of local children, encouraging a love of literacy that would serve them for the rest of their lives.
After she did an online search, Arenson discovered Raising a Reader, a program of Yavapai College funded by First Things First. Raising a Reader, designed to encourage families to read with their children every day, partners with child care centers and preschools. It works like a mobile library. Each week, children bring home bags fills with books to read with their families, and exchange them for new ones the following week. At the end of a 14-16 week cycle, the children have a celebration in which they receive a new blue book bag and a free book of their own.
Arenson thought Raising a Reader would be the ideal place to donate her books, so she called up Carolyn Shelley, Raising a Reader Coordinator for Yavapai County. Shelley was thrilled.
Carolyn Shelley will be placing Arenson's donated books in the children's book bags when they complete the Raising a Reader program.
Arenson donated more than 70 books to Raising a Reader. Since reading with young kids is one of the best ways to get them ready to read when they enter school, Roberta Arenson's gift will help kids birth to 5 throughout Yavapai County build a foundation for success.