From the Director:
Research shows that children raised in homes that promote literacy do better in school than children raised in homes where literacy is not promoted. Reading books to children does more than teach ABCs, colors, shapes, and numbers.
Parents participating in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Miami County who answered our 2018 survey report that their children are learning to sit quietly and have a longer attention span. One parent’s son puts down his video game to read while another has learned kindness. Several children now imitate a parent or sibling when they read. Many parents commented on how excited their children get when they receive a book by mail with their name on it that is theirs to keep.
We are so lucky to have this program and we are even more lucky to have a community that champions this program and parents who are invested in their children’s future. I remember some of my favorite books like “Mr. Pines Mixed Up signs” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” I developed a love of reading before starting school, which was a good thing.
My first-grade teacher (who is not from Miami County) allowed students to bring in books to read to the class. So I brought in one of my all-time favorites, Cinderella. It had beautiful illustrations that captured my imagination as a child. I began “reading” to the class but it wasn’t long before the teacher got up from her desk, accused me of not being able to read, and then pointed at a sentence and told me to read it. I fumbled my way through it and she again angrily told me I couldn’t read and then had me sit down. I wasn’t reading the story in the traditional sense but I was using my imagination to tell the story and wanted my classmates to share that experience with me.
I was humiliated and upset and I’m pretty sure I “told on her” when I got home from school—and then went about my day. For any other child, this could have been the end of their love for reading.
How things have changed for the better!
Educators, parents, and librarians now encourage children to look at books and use their imaginations. They ask questions about what’s happening on each page and children talk about how they can relate to what is happening in the book. Reading isn’t just saying the words and moving on to the next page—it’s an experience. And, it’s an experience that more than 6,000 of our Miami County children have been able to share with their parents since the inception of Imagination Library in 2014. To date, we have sent out more than 157,000 books to Miami County children in the past four years. That’s something to be proud of as a resident of this county.
I have a hunch that our children are going to be entering kindergarten more prepared than ever before. Parents surveyed through the Imagination Library program said their children are receiving diverse books that are age-appropriate. Their children are learning how to turn pages as well as visual scanning and tracking by following along. Parents are seeing increased vocabularies, recognition of sight words, and an interest in learning. If our children are better prepared for school, they will become better learners, and our community will be better off in the long run.
Any child from birth to age 5 is eligible to participate. Visit www.imaginationlibrary.com to sign up. This program is only as strong as the people who sponsor it. Consider donating to the program if you can. Funding for this program, which averages about $80,000/year, is dependent on community residents, businesses, organizations, and area foundations. It only costs $25 to sponsor books for a child for a year. Help us give our children their own personal library and, in the process, the confidence to read and learn. Text the number 13734 to 614-230-0347 to donate online.
Thank you for your support!
Rachelle Miller - Director