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Reading stations spreading through Poplarville

Residents of Poplarville may have noticed that several businesses in town now offer reading stations for children.

They are part of a collaboration between Excel By 5 and Poplarville Reads and not only provide books for children to read while in that business, but allow the children to take those books home.

Built by volunteers in town with donated supplies, the book stations include books provided by Poplarville Reads, who purchases them at a discount from various places or receives them as donations, said Carolyn Tedford, director of the Poplarville Reads Program.

“We know that early literacy is important for success in school. A lot of families can’t afford books, so we put the books in businesses,” Tedford said.

The first reading station was installed in the Burger King in town in 2016, and now there are eight stations throughout the town that offer reading materials children can take home.

Some of the stations in smaller businesses are comprised of baskets that house the books. Supplies for the shelves installed in larger businesses were donated by Mark Hines, owner of Wheat’s Home and Building Supplies, and were constructed by Michael Brown and Bud Lott, Tedford said.

Larger businesses like Pearl River Drug received the shelves, while smaller businesses with less room had baskets installed to house the books.

To build on the program, Tedford said she is working on putting Poplarville Reads books stations in more businesses.

The books are funded through donations from Poplarville Rotary Club, Poplarville Woman’s Club, the Pearl River County Library System and local churches, but Tedford said she is always looking for additional books to keep the reading stations stocked. As the books are taken home by the children to add to their own collections, Tedford stops in to the various participating businesses to add more. The more popular locations are restocked weekly. 

Book stations can usually be identified by a banner or sign indicating it is part of the Poplarville Reads Program; in smaller locations the book will include an Excel By 5 sticker inside to identify it as one a child can take home.

She is also working with Poplarville Lower Elementary to add to the collection of books at the stations.

To donate books or funds to be used to purchase books, call Tedford at 601-310-0377 or send an email to carolyntedford@gmail.com.

In addition to the organizations previously mentioned, the following businesses or organizations support Poplarville Reads; Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation, Mississippi Power Company, Pearl River Community College and Early Childhood Academy.

In addition to the locations previously mentioned, reading stations can be found in the following businesses; Pearl River Family Clinic, The Poplarville Clinic, Poplarville Dental Clinic, Poplarville Eye Clinic, Tropical Bliss Boutique and Debs Pizza.