SIOUX CITY | Sioux City Police officers this weekend started distributing a selection of law enforcement-themed children's books to families in need.
The new program, funded by a grant from Siouxland Human Investment Partnership, is meant to encourage early childhood literacy and promote positive interactions with police.
Selections feature books for multiple age levels, with titles including Richard Scarry's "A Day at the Police Station" and the Caldecott Award-winning "Officer Buckle and Gloria" by Peggy Rathmann.
The department received an approximately $4,280 grant from S.H.I.P., which it used to purchase 650 children's books, 500 in English and 150 in Spanish.
Officers will distribute books to children while working their shifts. The books also will be available at the Police/Fire Building's Little Free Library and at community events attended by law enforcement.
Police Lt. Brad Bollinger, who oversees the department's community policing initiatives, said the new program grew out of discussions with Siouxland CARES, SHIP and the Sioux City Community School District on the importance of early childhood literacy in helping student meet learning benchmarks as they grow older.
Bollinger said police often have contact with families in low-income households who would benefit from having more access to age-appropriate children's books.
"If a child is underprivileged or the child's in poverty, they basically have one or two children's books in the house for all the kids in the house," he said.
Officers began distributing the books Friday afternoon, and Bollinger said the department plans to apply for future grants to continue the program.