A reading corner at the Ballarat Begonia Festival captured the imagination of children throughout the weekend, helping the Ballarat Foundation to close the literacy gap.
Well-known Ballarat leaders, teachers and social media stars read stories from the Ballarat Imagination Library to eager youngsters, bringing the Ballarat Reads program to life.
More than 260 children are involved in the Ballarat Reads program.
One book every month is delivered into the letter box of children from disadvantaged areas for the first five years of their life.
Research shows having a physical book builds a lifelong love to readMatt Jenkins, Ballarat Foundation
Research shows children experiencing socio-economic disadvantage are more likely to be unable to read and write simple words in their first year of school.
Ballarat Foundation community engagement officer Ricci McGreevy said the program helped build up a home library in households that may otherwise not have books.
"That helps improve their literacy schools and gives them a head start at school," she said.
Ballarat Foundation chief executive Matt Jenkins said early childhood success was a priority area of focus for the foundation.
"Research shows having a physical book builds a lifelong love to read," he said.
"It is exciting for the children to get a book delivered in their letterbox and read with their family."
Australian Early Development Census data from 2015 shows children living in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged locations were four times as likely to be developmentally vulnerable than those from the least disadvantaged areas.
The data reveals children living in very remote Australia were nearly five times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable than children living in major cities.
The 2019 Australian Early Developmental Census data is expected to be released this month.
The Ballarat Foundation relies on donations to fund the Ballarat Reads program and is seeking donors to support the expansion of the program.
Families who apply will be put on a waiting list until more funding is secured.
Visit ballaratfoundation.org/community-impact/programs/ballarat-reads for more information about the Ballarat Reads program.