“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

According to a 2019 Pinellas Education Foundation study, just 56% of third-grade students read at their expected level, and only half met the minimum passing requirements. Data from the Florida Department of Education reveals that a meager 14% of students who are not on track in third grade manage to catch up by 10th grade, underscoring the critical significance of early literacy in determining a student’s long-term literacy prospects.

Establishing a solid foundation in early literacy is essential for the future success of students in Pinellas County. Exposure to books at an early age facilitates the development of robust language skills – including grammar and vocabulary – which are crucial for academic achievement. As a community, there are numerous ways to support access to early literacy, with public library systems being one of the most significant. 

Pinellas County Library officials have now recognized the Lealman Exchange as an official extension of their system. That enables children and families to register for library cards at no cost. Among the available options is the 3-for-me card, a fresh addition designed specifically for youngsters and adolescents aged 4 to 17. This card grants complimentary admission to all electronic resources, allows children to borrow up to 3 books, and provides a straightforward sign-up process that only requires one’s name, date of birth, and contact details – identification is not necessary.

Additional resources available to community residents include the United 4 Literacy reading kits for 3 to 5-year-olds, designed for small groups of young learners, and myON Digital Library, which is home to over 7,000 books and available 24/7 on web-enabled devices. You can also download up to 20 books at a time to read offline. Children enrolled in a Pinellas County school already have an account. Those who attend daycare centers, community centers, private schools, and charter schools from birth to 5th grade can register with the information below for free access.

Residents can take advantage of an array of supplementary resources using their PPLC library card, including access to over 1 million items across 24 PPLC member libraries, e-Books and e-Audio through the Libby app, and numerous online databases. Through the PPLC app or library catalog online, patrons can opt to have their desired items sent from any PPLC member library to the LEX for convenient pick-up. Furthermore, patrons can return library materials at the LEX, regardless of whether they were checked out from another library.

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