In January of 2016, the Manatee Library Foundation was pleased to bring best-selling authors Stephen King and John Grisham for an unforgettable evening. The funds raised from this event were used to fund an innovative literacy campaign called I Am A Lifelong Learner. Last year, Nicholas Sparks took the stage to assist with our endeavors to continue this program, and this year we welcomed David Baldacci.

Early Literacy and STEM kits

STEM kit.

With a focus on reading, talking, singing, writing, and playing, each kit contains materials that can be used to develop these important learning skills for ages preschool through elementary school. The kits may be borrowed for three weeks.

I Am a Lifelong Learner


  • The two-year literacy enhancement project will reach the youngest readers and their families and is designed to increase reading and STEM success. In Progress!
  • A Lifelong Learning Coordinator will identify, evaluate and target the harder-to-serve areas, providing outreach on-site within communities. Jodie Williams, a former teacher with 17 years experience as a special needs instructor was hired in 2016.
  • The community will be exposed to hundreds of programs and thousands of free resource materials available by issuing library cards and building awareness of library services.
  • An incentive program will be developed to encourage readers and instill a love of reading and library use. Each neighborhood branch library will offer in-house programming and outreach opportunities to engage both children and their families.
  • Funding will be used to expand the existing summer reading program, addressing the “summer slide” with engaging reading series.
  • Resources such as exciting literacy kits and electronics will be added to the existing collection. Interactive science kits, early literacy kits and educationally-designed electronic devices will allow children and families to learn math, language, and other reading skills while having fun together.


  • Summer 2017 Results – Collaborative efforts Jodie has developed include partnerships with United Way, The Patterson Foundation, ELC, La Mirada Gardens, Visible Men Academy, John and Amanda Horne (AMOB), Manatee County School District, Whole Child Manatee, teachers, and groups/individuals providing programming.  These partnerships provided onsite support for latchkey kids and included meals.
  • Anna Maria Oyster Bar collaboration with three Title One (Tillman, Blackburn, and Palm View) schools and Manatee Libraries
  • 32 hours of free reading instruction provided by a certified teacher and one-on-one volunteers
  • 74 children participated regularly
  • 1,862 books in 4 weeks, an average of 25 books


Reading Rooms in collaboration with United Way

Reading Room at La Mirada (low-income housing community room now focused on youth) –

  • 125 hours of free literacy-based programming provided by certified teachers
  • 4 free enrichment programs (Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Kaye Burns’ Build a Story program, the Van Wezel, and a sheriff during our career week theme)
  • 30 children participated regularly… they read 585 books in 7 weeks, an average of 20 books
  • As reported by their parents, they averaged 3 books each last summer.  This is 667% increase over last summer.
  • 65% of children (ages 3-5) first early education experience
  • 90% of the 30 children consistently participated in more than 100 hours of programming
  • 4 younger children (ages 3, 4, and 5) had a perfect attendance of 125 hours
  • 100% of parents say their children would participate in after-school tutoring
  • 100% of parents say they would participate in literacy coaching for parents
  • Whole Child Manatee met with 15 families

Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading

Manatee Libraries works closely with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading and Manatee County Schools on literacy initiatives that help children achieve satisfactory reading skills by the time they reach the third grade. The library provides support via  outreach and reading rooms and through literacy kits, programming, and other resources.

Visit the Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading to find more information and sign up for their newsletter. 

Next summer, be sure to check out Anna Maria Oyster Bar's Dive Into Reading program for elementary age students.


  • Early Literacy Coordinator
  • (941) 748-5555 ext 3820
  • Email Us

ABCmouse is available inside the library. See staff for information.

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