Grant allows all eligible Macon children to participate.
Just three short months after word spread of the possibility of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library being implemented throughout the county, the community has worked together to raise the funds necessary to make the project a reality.
According to Gerry Doubleday with the Literacy Council of Highlands, after partnering with Read2Me of Macon County, a $7,500 donation grant prompted the community to raise $9,700 in additional funds to take the project, which was originally restricted to Highlands, to the rest of the county.
“The Literacy Council of Highlands was started 20 years ago by a group of dedicated volunteers. Although the faces of our volunteers and staff have changed, the mission of the Literacy Council remains the same as our motto says, ‘Changing Lives One Mind at a Time,’” said Doubleday. “We host a variety of programs from reading sessions at schools and preschools, GED tutoring and completion, computer classes, afterschool enrichment programs for elementary children, tutoring in high school subjects; but the heart and soul of the council remains to help small children master reading. We have specially trained literacy volunteer tutors that work one-on-one with small children (and sometimes adults) teaching basic reading skills. These tutors are amazing, but through their experiences we have realized that even kindergarten is a late place to introduce children to books and reading. This is where the Dolly Parton Imagination Library enters the picture. Through Dolly's Library, children are introduced to books early, perhaps soon after birth. The books are selected by educators and matched to the child's age, some are presented in both English and Spanish, helping prepare the child for our multi-cultural world.”
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library provides one book per month free of charge for all children, birth to five, who register.
“This program is one of the most important ways I know to improve the educational opportunities for children in your community,” says Parton in the program's information letter. “When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”
After a parent or guardian has registered a child with Imagination Library through the Highlands Literacy Council or Read2Me, the child will receive in the mail once a month a package with a free, age-appropriate book selected from the Imagination Library’s set of 60 children’s classic picture books.
The original local registration goal for the program was 75 by the end of 2012. Surpassing that goal, there are already 176 children throughout the county enrolled, all of which will shortly receive their first books from the program. According to Doubleday, he hopes that by the end of 2013, 400-500 children can be registered throughout the county, which will ideally set a precedent for continued growth in the coming years.
“The Literacy Council is proud to partner with Read2Me, Fontana Regional Library, The Rotary Club of Franklin, and the Western Mountains Reading Council in bringing this fine program to the children of Macon County,” said Doubleday.
To register for the completely free program, parents can pick up a registration form from the Board of Education, the library, or at a number of pediatrician offices around town. Parents can also cut out the registration form on this page, fill it out and return it to any of the aforementioned locations.
For more information, contact the Literacy Council of Highlands or Macon County Schools central office.