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At events held Thursday in Lynchburg and Fayetteville, First Lady Crissy Haslam and Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) President Theresa Carl recognized the impact and success of the Imagination Library program in Moore and Lincoln counties.
After a stop at the Moore County Public Library in Lynchburg, where they greeted and thanked Imagination Library volunteers and supporters, Mrs. Haslam and Ms. Carl attended a luncheon at Shoney’s Restaurant in Fayetteville hosted by the Retired Teachers of Lincoln County.
The pair concluded the day’s festivities at the Fayetteville/Lincoln County Public Library, where they helped a group of local children register for library cards as part of “Look Who’s Reading,” an event co-sponsored by the Lincoln County Imagination Library.
“The Imagination Library helps to provide positive literacy experiences for children early in life,” said Mrs. Haslam. “It is also important for families to connect with their local library, because it can be one of the best resources to keep children engaged in reading and learning.”
Launched by Dolly Parton in 1996 as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, the Imagination Library mails one new, age-appropriate book every month to registered children from birth until age five – at no cost to families and regardless of income. The Imagination Library is available to all of Tennessee’s 408,000 children under age five, and an Imagination Library program affiliate exists in all 95 counties in the state.
Over 17.7 million books have been delivered across Tennessee since the GBBF’s inception in October 2004. Approximately $24 annually (or $2 per book) provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. With funding support from the Tennessee General Assembly, various foundations, individual donors, and a host of private sector partners, the GBBF matches, dollar for dollar, all funds raised by each program affiliate – a dynamic public-private partnership unlike any other in the U.S.
“We are so very fortunate to have volunteers in all 95 counties who share a common resolve, which is to equip the youngest children in our state with a love of learning and reading from birth,” Ms. Carl said. “With their help, the Imagination Library program is making a difference in the lives of an entire generation of Tennesseans.”
Tennessee is the only state to have the Imagination Library program in every one of its counties.
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 to kindergarten more prepared to learn than non-participants. A 2010 study indicated that simply having more books around the house correlates to a child’s completing more years of formal education. In January of this year, 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.
“The first few years of a child’s life are crucial for healthy development,” said Mrs. Haslam. “The Imagination Library program plays a key role in supporting early development by providing families with the tools they need to engage their child in learning at home.”