The Shelby County Libraries and the Shelby County United Way launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library 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, 2,376 children are receiving age appropriate books monthly representing 67% 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 have since raised the expectations and our new goal is 70% enrollment. We are extremely close to that goal. It would be quite an accomplishment if 7 out of every 10 children entered kindergarten being exposed to quality age appropriate books from birth.”
All communities are seeing success with enrollments and the community libraries in the villages are assisting in promoting the initiative. Enrollment numbers by village: Anna 231, Botkins 115, Fort Loramie 209, Houston 81, Jackson Center 58, Maplewood 34, Russia 116, Sidney 1,419, outlying communities in Shelby County 113, Total 2,376. Over 64,000 books have been mailed since the start of the program and over 2,300 books are mailed monthly.
The investment to adopt Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Shelby County has exceeded $60,000 a year to the community funders. In addition to the Shelby County Library and the Shelby County United Way, program funders include Sidney Altrusa, Sidney Kiwanis, Sidney Rotary, Midwest Regional ESC, Sidney City Schools, the Monarch Legacy Fund, P.O.W.E.R., Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, The DEB Fund, and Wilson Health.
“Shelby County Libraries is pleased to bring this extremely important Literacy Program to our County,” Executive Director, Suzanne Cline states. “The entire community will benefit from the positive effects of making sure children begin their lives with the gift of reading,”
The positive response from the parents and caregivers about the program has been tremendous. “My child loved the Imagination Library program because now she has an amazing imagination and the books fueled that. She looked forward to her new book every month.” said Jeremy a father of a recent Imagination Library program graduate. Diana, a mom of another graduate, stated “The best thing about the Imagination Library program is getting to share special one-on-one reading time with my daughter.” Cherie, another parent summarized the program best with “One thing every parent should know about the Imagination Library is that it is a must!”
To enroll a Shelby County child under the age of 5, please visit imaginationlibrary.com and click (Register My Child). Once enrolled, a child will start to receive books in 6-8 weeks.