About 40 4-year-olds from the Dothan area received gift bags from Troy University at the main branch of the Dothan Houston County Library on Thursday morning.
The gift bags included the book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear,” book bags with the New York Times logo on them, and custom-made T-shirts.
The gifts were made possible by a grant by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which is funding Project Pre-K to K Transition, a partnership between the University and two Dothan child care centers designed to help 4-year-olds better transition into kindergarten.
Students from Pal-A-Roos Daycare and Eastside Childcare Learning Center gathered at the library to receive the gifts and hear a special message from Dr. Hal Fulmer, TROY Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate and First-Year Studies.
“Readers are leaders,” Fulmer told the children.
Afterwards, Fulmer discussed the importance of Project Pre-K to K Transition and, particularly, of emphasizing reading to young children.
“There is absolutely nothing like being with little children when they get excited about books and reading and being in a library,” Fulmer said. “If you really want to know how we’re going to change the world, this is how were going to change the world — we’re going to put books in the hands of children and say, ‘Be a reader.’ Of all the things I do, this is the fun part.”
He said the driving force behind the program is the spirit of partnership.
“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation partnering with us and the library, and being able to bring our folks here form the Dothan Campus, that partnership is wonderful,” Fulmer said. “These are great partnerships and they really do change things. If you get (kids) early and they get a love of reading, they’ll get a love of learning and they will really be those leaders that we’re looking for.”
Project Pre-K to K Transition is a grant funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to provide high-quality research-based curriculum, as well as professional development and ongoing support for child care providers in the Dothan community.