I first heard about the Imagination Library while watching the wonderful (now defunct) webcast, CNN.com Live. Reggie Aqui interviewed Dolly Parton (and dueted to “Islands in the Stream”). Dolly talked about this program she created to get age-appropriate books into the hands of pre-school children. She has always loved children, even though she has none of her own. But through this program, all kids are sort of her kids.
The first time I heard about Imagination Library, I looked at the website and I don’t think our county participated. The second time I heard about it, I told my sister-in-law so she could sign up my niece (my poor nephew was already too old). And then I completely forgot about it.
Just before I had my son, my sister-in-law told me about the program and suggested I sign up. My son has been getting a book a month since shortly after he was born. Some are better than others. Everyone starts with The Little Engine That Could. This comes in handy because one of the few things my son says is “toot-toot”.
He also really likes one called All of Baby Nose to Toes. We point at the parts of the body as we read it. I think he might be catching on. He likes ABC Look at Me, because it shows other babies facial expressions. He also likes One Foot Two Feet An Exceptional Counting Book, because the pages have a square cut out, like little windows. He thinks that is neat.
I kept a few books from my own childhood and I worked for a bookstore (although however briefly after my son arrived), so we are probably not quite as needy as some families. But my son does enjoy books. I think daddy is more excited when a new book comes in the mail than my son is. I love that it has the child’s name on the mailing label, so it comes right to him. Some of the earlier books we got were hardcover, but now it seems like they are all softcover. Must be the rising cost of postage is getting the better of them. What I find ironic is that they are shipping books to kids, addressed to kids, wrapped in plastic wrap with a warning that says “Warning! Plastic bags can be dangerous. To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this bag away from babies and children.”
The program is sponsored in part by the Dollywood Foundation, in partnership with local sponsors who cover the cost of books and postage. This all seems like some sort of fabulous secret. I mean, there are never any public service announcements promoting it. Dolly mentions it in interviews, but I don’t think I have ever seen it mentioned on her Facebook page. I have been to my local WIC office . They don’t have any signs or brochures about the program. But it isn’t really being kept quiet, either.
Last winter, our local mall had a community day, which included some organizations for kids and literacy. There was a booth of people asking everyone if they knew about the “Imagination Library” and signing them up if they had not.
So tell your family and friends to look into the fabulous program. When your kid out grows the books, pass them on. Send people the website link (http://www.imaginationlibrary.com/). Feel free to pass on this post, since it contains boundless amounts of information and the link. If anyone knows Dolly Parton, pass along my thanks and appreciation to her. And let her know that I would love to meet her;)
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