Community members from all walks of life supported Imagination Library Week by reading to children throughout the county this week.
Wilson Books From Birth, the Wilson County division of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, supplies children under 5 years old each a free book a month.
“We’re right at 4,500 children currently enrolled in the program, and we have graduated out over 6,000,” said Peggy Simpson of Wilson County Books from Birth. “We have sent out 350,000 books in that time.”
In honor of Imagination Library Week, community members read to children at pre-kindergarten classes and childcare providers throughout the county.
“Reading is the cornerstone to learning,” said County Mayor Randall Hutto. “It is one of the most essential parts of life, which is also taken for granted too many times. We must continue to be sensitive to the need for literacy across our nation, and we do that teaching people to read one person at a time. Read to someone today, even if it’s just yourself.”
Parton founded Imagination Library to foster a love of reading among preschool children and their families by providing them with free, specially selected books each month.
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.
Currently, the 215,000 Tennessee children under 5 each receive one, high-quality and age-appropriate book delivered to their homes each month at no cost to the family.
More than 18.5 million books have been delivered to Tennessee children across the state since 2004.
“With a presence in all 95 counties, the Imagination Library program plays an important role in educating children across the state,” said Gov. Bill Haslam. "During the past nine years, this program has reached millions of children, providing them with books to encourage a love of reading, a lifetime of learning and to increase school readiness."
“The Imagination Library is a one of the best programs we have in Tennessee to promote early literacy with children and families,” Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam said. “I encourage every Tennessee family with children under the age of 5 to enroll their children during Imagination Library Week."
An increasing amount of research points to the universally positive impact of having books in the home.
Imagination Library participants from both low-income and middle-income households arrive at kindergarten more prepared to learn than non-participants.
A 2010 study indicated that simply having more books in the home correlates to a child’s completing more years of formal education. In January, a team of researchers concluded that reading to a child in an interactive style can raise the child’s IQ by as much as six points.
Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out later.
A recent study conducted by the Urban Child Institute determined that programs like the Imagination Library lead to early childhood language development, school readiness, grade progression, on-time graduation and college attendance.