For many years now, Dolly Parton has been somewhat of a hero for me. Her spunk and enjoyment of life always come across when you see her on television. In 2012, Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD), Colorado Springs, Colo., became involved with a group called Early Books, Early Reading, and I found another reason to appreciate her: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. This charitable organization works to help provide a free book in the mail every month to children from birth to five.
The books that are sent to children, who are able to sign up for the program, are carefully selected by Imagination Library Book Committee. While the main concepts behind the program are inspiration and imagination, they also hope to promote reading, diversity, self-esteem, and art. More specific themes for the books are defined for each year of the child’s development.
To start the program in your area, you have to pick the geographic region you will serve, which can be based on zip code, town, county, etc. Imagination Library asks that you do not limit by any other factors. You also have to find a 501(c)(3) agency willing to help with the funding aspect. You will also need to find others to help with fundraising, which is a big requirement of time with this project. However, with the low cost of $25 a year per child, the books are extremely low priced.
The Imagination Library program came to Colorado Springs when a community member who had heard about it organized the group, Early Books, Early Reading. The volunteers with this group work to raise funds and awareness of the program, as well as registering children for it. The PPLD Foundation helps with handling the donations for the program. The library’s children’s department also volunteered to offera few programs to introduce parents of participating children to early literacy concepts as an additional part of the Imagination Library.
One of the libraries I work in happens to serve patrons from some of the zip codes that were originally selected to participate in the program. Whenever I sign kids up for new library cards, or just interact with them, I try to check to see if they are under five. Watching the smiles come to the faces of the children when they find out they can receive free books in the mail is always something exciting. The parents are genuinely pleased to hear about the program, as well.
Currently, the Imagination Library website lists a total of more than 650,000 children registered for the program. Now that’s a lot of smiles!
ImaginationLibrary.com. “Book Committee.”Imagination Library. n.d.
http://usa.imaginationlibrary.com/book_committee.php (accessed May 8, 2013).
ImaginationLibrary.com. “Themes and Concepts.”Imagination Library.n.d.
http://usa.imaginationlibrary.com/themes_concepts.php#.UYp0X0rXAgE (accessed May 8, 2013).
ImaginationLibrary.com. “Program Replication.”Imagination Library. n.d. http://usa.imaginationlibrary.com/program_replication.php#.UYsJhsoYTIU (accessed May 8, 2013).
ImaginationLibrary.com. “Home.”Imagination Library. n.d. http://imaginationlibrary.com/ (access May 8, 2013).