First Five Mendocino recently announced a significant milestone: since April 2009 it has distributed more than 50,000 books free of charge to children ages 0 to 5 through its role as fiscal champion for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Parton launched her Imagination Library in 1996, to benefit children in her home county in East Tennessee. According to www.imaginationlibrary.com/, Parton’s vision was “to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could insure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.”
According to the website, Imagination Library became so popular that in 2000, Parton announced that she would make the program available for replication to any community that was willing to partner with her to support it locally.
“Since the initial program launch in the United States, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gone from just a few dozen books to nearly 40,000,000 books mailed to children in the United States, into Canada and across the proverbial pond into the United Kingdom.”
According to the website, more than 1,600 communities provide the Information Library to almost 700,000 children every month. One of these is Mendocino County thanks to the fiscal championship of First Five Mendocino County in partnership with the Mendocino County Public Library and the Community Foundation of Mendocino County. United Way of the Wine Country is serving as 2012 sponsor as are individual donors.
What a great program this would be, to be duplicated locally.
In an article published this week in the Ukiah Daily Journal, Americorps volunteer Pheriche Robinson cites studies that emphasize early and frequent exposure to the written word: “Children who are read to learn 250 percent more words than those who are not exposed to reading with their parents.”
Imagination Library would be an excellent supplement to our libraries’ preschool storytimes, which take place from 10:15 to 11 a.m. Fridays at the Lakeport Library and from 11 to 11:45 a.m. Thursdays at Redbud Library in Clearlake.
Imagination Library would bring age-appropriate books into Lake County children’s homes where they would be familiar and accessible things. I believe that I read as much as I do today because I grew up surrounded by books.
As explained by Robinson, within a few weeks time after a child’s parents have signed the child up, one book per month will be mailed to the child free of charge from the time of sign-up until the child reaches their fifth birthday.
Each book that is mailed costs $2.50 including postage thanks to Parton’s relationship with Penguin, USA.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library offers a variety of resources to help start a program locally, including a “personal trainer” or regional director. It also provides a step-by-step replication process.
For more information about Information Library visit www.imaginationlibrary.com/.
Published Jan. 31, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee
Subject Classifications (Partial list, via Dewey Decimal System)
- 006.754-Social Media
- 020-Library and Information Science
- 020.92-Cynthia M. Parkhill (Biographical)
- 023.3-Library Workers
- 025.04-Internet Access
- 027.473-Public Libraries
- 027.663-Libraries and people with disabilities
- 027.8-School Libraries
- 028.52-Children's Literature
- 028.535-Young Adult Literature
- 028.7-Information Literacy
- 158.2-Social Intelligence
- 323.30-People with disabilities--Civil rights
- 658.812-Customer Service
- 659.2-Public Relations
- 686.22-Graphic Design
- 809-Literature--Critical Appraisal