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Learning Opportunities Through Stories program (LOTS) promotes early literacy in kids along North Shore this summer, including Grand Marais, Grand Portage, and Tofte

Jun 11, 2024 09:46AM ● By Content Editor

Photo: Annie Spratt via

By Sammie Garrity for Boreal Community Media - June 10, 2024

In collaboration with the North Shore Collaborative, the Learning Opportunities Through Stories program (LOTS) is operating in six different towns along the shore this summer. LOTS is a free program designed to promote early literacy in kids and is geared toward ages up to 5. The program is known for not only being educational but also lots of fun for participants. 

“We’ve had many comments from parents/caregivers that LOTS is not only educational, but it’s also fun for kiddos to meet new friends,” said Trisha Scamehorn, North Shore Collaborative & LOTS Coordinator.

Early literacy is crucial because it isn’t solely the mechanics of reading and writing. It has more holistic effects that span cognitive, social, and emotional tools. Early literacy prepares kids for future academic success but also helps prepare their communication skills for building relationships in the future. When LOTS is investing its resources into these kids, they are supporting their growth and giving them resources to grow into capable adults. 

This program is accomplishing these goals well. The results are palpable as people who have been involved in the program in the past have described enjoying the “social and emotional experience it offers” as well as having time for the kids to socialize, and also the parents. Additionally, it promotes the importance of free books and reading to the kids.

The program has been in operation since 2009 and has been able to distribute 15,000 books and counting. It was developed to get children into the habit of reading and to foster a love for learning, as well. Simultaneously, LOTS is aimed to help kids get ready for kindergarten and give them resources for later academic success.

While it is geared towards younger kids, older children are still welcome. They can participate and listen in on the story time and find a more age-appropriate book to take home if they would like, said Scamehorn. Though it is meant for kindergarten-age kids, it is never too late to develop a love for reading and the LOTS program is there to support that interest!

Logistically, at each session, a book is read and discussed with the kids. After discussion, all of the participants can take a copy of the book home to read. At the sessions, there is also time typically allotted for playtime as well as an extra activity like arts and crafts. This promotes not only socialization skills but also gives kids a chance to meet new friends. 

LOTS has achieved a significant amount of success over the years of its operation. There are normally over 100 participants each year and over 1000 books go home to kids, said Scamehorn. LOTS has programs operating in Grand Portage, Grand Marais, Tofte, Silver Bay, and Two Harbors. This allows for kids all along the shore to be able to participate and creates a wider base of learning. 

This year, LOTS is taking a bit of a different shape. They are starting a program that partners with local libraries to foster even more learning as well as literacy. See below for dates in Cook County, Minnesota. For Lake County dates, please visit the LOTS website here.

This year’s books include: 

  • Bear’s Loose Tooth

  • Hattie the Fox

  • Selfish Crocodile

  • Sleepy ABC Boardbook

  • What if You Had Animal Hair? 

LOTS is sending an important message that learning is critical and that the earlier kids can start, the better. They are also providing an opportunity for kids to branch out and meet people outside of their immediate circle. They are teaching important principles and have created a program that is both unique and necessary. 

Please contact Trisha Scamehorn at 218- 834-8403 or at [email protected] for more information or any other questions.

For the most up-to-date information, 
visit the LOTS website here.


LOTS is funded by the North Shore Collaborative, Cook County Community Fund, Silver Bay Charitable Fund, Two Harbors Area Fund (affiliates of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation), and Cooperative Light and Power, Operation Round Up.

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