Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was launched in Sevier County, Tennessee, in 1995. Since then, the program has expanded across the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia.
The Imagination Library is a partnership among the Dolly Parton Foundation, United Way, local educators, libraries and other sponsors and funders. Children between the ages of newborn and 5 years old can register to be a part of the Imagination Library. A free, age-appropriate book is mailed each month in the child’s name to the home address.
It takes $25 per child to fund a year of books. The program is free to all children who are registered, thanks to donors and fundraisers.
United Way of Clark, Champaign & Madison Counties now holds an annual Power of the Purse event in each of the three counties. With the help of donors and local community members, over 9,000 free books have been mailed in Champaign County since the program began in April 2017.
The Champaign County Power of the Purse fundraiser, a fun event at which women come together to raise money for the program, is set for 5:30-9 p.m. Oct. 10 at Pretty Prairie Farms, 4440 Prairie Road, south of Urbana. A silent auction, live auction, entertainment and food are planned. Tickets are $40 pre-sale and can be purchased by calling 937-324-5551 or at www.uwccmc.org. Tickets at the door are $45.
Kerry Pedraza, United Way executive director, stated, “The importance of getting books into the hands of a child cannot be emphasized enough. Early exposure to reading helps children develop creativity, an advanced vocabulary, interest in different topics, and enhances a child’s concentration. The Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is an amazing, free program that gives all children and families the tools to do this.”
Children develop much of their capacity to learn in the first three years of life. Immersing a child in a print-rich home can be a stronger predictor of literacy and academic achievement than family income. However, in order to read with a child, books must be in the home. A statistic reports that in low-income neighborhoods, there is only one age-appropriate book for every 300 households.
Go to www.uwccmc.org/dolly-partons-imagination-library for more information about the Imagination Library and to register a child to receive books.
Submitted by United Way of Clark, Champaign & Madison Counties.