- Associated Press - Saturday, May 23, 2015

AUBURN, Ind. (AP) - A northern Indiana coffee shop is launching a literacy program in hopes of building a love of reading early in life.

Jeremiah’s Brewed Awakenings in Auburn will feature story times for children and will send a new book to each DeKalb County child in kindergarten through third grade each year on his or her birthday, owner Jeremiah Otis told The (Auburn) Star (https://bit.ly/1F030xt ). Parents will be able to sign their children up for the birthday books via a website, and the first books could start going out in January.

The program, which also will include scholarships for graduating high school seniors, is part of an effort to give back to the community, Otis said.

“We needed to take a risk in order to make a big impact,” Otis said. “The community has been really good for us, so we’re going to start putting everything back into the community that we can right now. We’re not going to wait.”

Otis said he has received interest in the project from schools and public libraries. He said he’s considering enlisting Scouts and other local groups to help prepare the books for distribution.



Locations for the story times will vary and could include a fire station or the county courthouse. Volunteers will be enlisted to read.

“We want kids realizing that everybody reads,” he said. “If this will work, there has to be community-wide involvement. The feedback has been overwhelming.”

Otis could wind up shipping 90 books a week to the 4,300 children in kindergarten through third grade once his program is running. But he said the effort is worth it if it inspires an interest in reading and improves literacy.

“Literacy is very important to society,” he said. “Everybody should be able to read and appreciate books.”

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Information from: The (Auburn, Ind.) Star, https://www.dekalbstar.com

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