See a Nook, Read a Book!

Thanks to a generous gift, new book nooks at local businesses and nonprofits are bringing books within reach of more children.

Pictured: Britni Farber, executive director of NAMI Dubuque, shows off her organization’s new Book Nook.

By Kelly Krause, Ed.D
Education Officer

When I was a child, I liked nothing more than to spend my days with a good book. Now, thanks to a generous donor — "Susie" — children in Dubuque will have more places to find books that will foster the same love of reading.

To support our youngest readers, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque is helping establish new reading areas called “Susie’s Book Nooks” at several local organizations and businesses. Susie’s Book Nooks will include child-appropriate seating and a variety of books to read while visiting that location.

A Community-Wide Approach

Learning doesn’t just happen at home and school — it can happen anywhere in the community. As families visit places like a car dealership or nonprofit office, children can access engaging books that will encourage the continual practice of reading. Reading facilitates many aspects of growth in young children, and making books readily available in numerous spaces encourages it.

This idea was on the minds of the Anderson-Weber Toyota owners when they decided to make their dealership a site for one of the new book nooks.

“We are thrilled to be adding a Susie’s Book Nook,” says Nicole Hayzlett, marketing director at Anderson-Weber Toyota. “We have kids at the dealership day in, day out, so we know this will be a beneficial addition.”


The Benefits of Reading

Reading is an essential skill, especially for our youngest learners. Because a child’s brain is 80% the size of an adult’s by age 3, it is critical that children are exposed to books and their environment is enriched with words.

Being read to, as well as having many books to choose from, results in higher reading scores. Research suggests strong readers have over 200 books in their homes — but we know creating a home library is not economically feasible for many families. Like Little Free Libraries or StoryWalks, Susie’s Book Nooks will provide another way for children to easily access books and fuel their imagination from the stories found within.

Having books readily available in places children visit is an important step toward building strong readers. Young children aren’t the only ones who benefit — the whole community wins when people read. Strong readers have increased vocabulary and concentration. They have higher self-esteem. They experience an increase in empathy, have greater cultural understanding, and can successfully manage social relationships. They sleep better, have less cognitive decline with aging, and have fewer depression symptoms. Readers may also live longer, by as much as two years!

More Ways to Build Early Literacy

With all the benefits of reading, one doesn’t have to make a lengthy jump to see that fostering a love of reading in young people is beneficial for everyone. With our Every Child Reads initiative, we at the Community Foundation work with local partners to support reading proficiency by the end of third grade, a key predictor of high school graduation and success later in life.

For example, in 2022 we distributed 86,000 free books to children throughout the region. We also facilitate a network of educators, nonprofits, businesses and parents to share resources that help children succeed. The new book nooks are one more component of this well-rounded approach to children’s literacy.

The generous donor whose giving has made these nooks possible is helping stimulate the brains of our youngest bookworms. We are proud to partner with these local businesses and organizations, and we encourage others to set up nooks of their own, making books accessible to all children.

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