Wilson Books from Birth, the local affiliate of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, is joining the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation to celebrate Early Literacy Month in September.

Gov. Bill Lee proclaimed September as "Early Literacy Month" in Tennessee to raise awareness of early literacy efforts in the state and celebrate their accomplishments statewide, including Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, the early literacy program that mails new, age-appropriate books to preschool children each month, at no cost to the family and regardless of income, according to a news release from local Books from Birth coordinator Peggy Simpson.

Managed by local volunteers, the local Imagination Library affiliate, Wilson Books from Birth, gives all children, from birth to age 5 in Wilson County, the opportunity to receive one high-quality, age-appropriate book each month in the mail -- at no cost to families. Currently, 80% (5,883) of Wilson County's total eligible population are enrolled in the program and receive books monthly. More than 740,000 books have been mailed to Wilson County children since the program began in 2005.

The Imagination Library is available to all age-eligible Tennessee children through a unique, public-private partnership with GBBF, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and affiliate programs in each of Tennessee's 95 counties. With vital financial support from the Tennessee General Assembly, foundations, and corporate sponsors, GBBF funds half the cost of books for enrolled children in each of Tennessee's 95 counties. Each local county affiliate, like Wilson Books from Birth, promotes the program in its community and raises funds for the other half of the cost of books and mailing for enrolled children in their county.

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70% of the state's total eligible population -- almost 284,000 preschoolers - are enrolled in Tennessee's Imagination Library statewide. With over 692,000 Tennessee five-year-olds having already "graduated," the program has delivered more than 36 million books since 2004.

In honor of Early Literacy Month, Wilson Books from Birth is participating in the third annual #GotCaughtReading social media challenge, encouraging all Wilson County supporters to post a photograph of themselves on social media reading with a child. Post your #GotCaughtReading picture on Facebook. Be sure to tag GBBF(@TNImagination) and use the hashtags #GotCaughtReading and #TNImagination. The picture can be of your child(ren) reading an Imagination Library book, you with your child(ren) reading, or even a fun picture of you and your coworkers reading an Imagination Library book.

During the week of Sept. 16, Wilson Books from Birth is inviting individuals from the community to read in the pre-K classrooms and the child-care provider facilities across the county.

"Currently 29 locations are scheduled for readers during the week," said Simpson. "We are so proud of these volunteer readers who help promote early childhood literacy in Wilson County."

Also, Wilson Books from Birth will be honoring the local postal workers for their help in mailing Imagination Library books to every enrolled child across Wilson County.

With over 5,800 books now being mailed to enrolled children in Wilson County, the monthly shared cost allocated to Wilson County Imagination Library exceeds $5,900. Here's how you can help the program continue to serve more children:

• To volunteer or get involved, contact Peggy Simpson, Wilson County Imagination Library Coordinator, at 615-444-5586 or wilsontnbooksfrombirth@gmail.com

• To donate online, go to https://www.governorsfoundation.org/give. Be sure to specify Wilson County to designate your donation to the Wilson County program.

• Enroll your child at imaginationlibrary.com

• Participate in "GotCaughtReading" on social media by posting a photograph while reading with a child.

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