The Shelby County Library and the Shelby County United Way launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library with a community celebration in March of 2015. This evidence-based program mails a brand new book each month to children under the age of 5. Children that participate in the program from birth are better prepared for Kindergarten, spend more time with their care givers, and visit their local libraries more often.Wilson Health joined the collaboration and enrolls newborns at the birthing center, a national best practice.
The community response has been overwhelming as enrollment goals have been surpassed. Today, 2,210 children are receiving age appropriate books monthly representing 63% of Shelby County children under the age of 5. Scott Barr, Shelby County United Way Director, states “Our 5 year goal was to enroll 60% of our children under the age of 5. We are ecstatic that we achieved that in our first 2 years. We have since raised the expectations and our new goal is 70% enrollment. It would be quite an accomplishment if 7 out of every 10 children entered kindergarten being exposed to quality age appropriate books from birth.”