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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Just imagine: Program puts books in kids' hands

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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At the Child Safety Fair, four-year-old Rylee Beth Brown read the book she selected after updating her mailing address.
(Submitted photo)
Statistics show that early readers have higher reading, speaking, thinking and social skills than children who do not read, and a local program is reorganizing to support those skills.

The Bedford County Imagination Library, the local chapter of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, is sponsored by the Friends of Argie Cooper Public Library.

Free books

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Seven-year-old Kenley Johnson, an Imagination Library graduate, stopped by to show her support and help out with enrollment.
(Submitted photo)
The local chapter's mission and vision is to ensure that new, age-appropriate books are mailed to Bedford County's preschool children, at no cost to the family and regardless of income. It is estimated that 3,446 local children are eligible, and only about a third of those are enrolled.

"We want to instill a love of learning and reading in those same children, while strengthening families and resulting in each child's improved long-term educational outcomes."

Dolly Parton created the Imagination Library in 1996 as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville. The program has grown state-wide, with the cost of the program ($24 per child, per year) being split between the local organization and the Governor's Books from Birth foundation.

100,000 delivered

Bedford County has delivered a total of 102,244 books since the program began, with 1,975 children currently graduates after reaching school-age. This month the group will deliver over 1,000 books to local pre-schoolers.

While Friends of the Library provide an umbrella for the operation the Imagination Library is a separate entity, explained Shelly Gray, president. The Governor's Books From Birth Foundation has also been instrumental in revitalizing the local chapter.

"The proven The Imagination Library's impact on the economy is sufficiently important that the award criteria for Tennessee's Three-Star Program for Excellence in Community Development," said Gray.

An investment

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Bedford County Imagination Library Board members work the enrollment booth at the Child Safety Fun Fair. From left are Luci Taylor, Shelly Gray, Mary Ann Nelson. All three are involved in early childhood education serving as a playgroup facilitator, child care provider and pre-K teacher.
(Submitted photo)
"We believe investing in the youngest of our citizens improves school readiness, aides in character development, and lays the foundation for an educated workforce for the future which all lead to greater economic success for our community," Gray said.

The group is seeking individuals as partners in serving in our advisory and executive board positions, as well as cultivate gifting opportunities.

For more information, or to enroll, contact Pat Hastings at Argie Cooper Public Library, Gray at 212-7063 or Luci Taylor at 703-6764.At the Child Safety Fair, four-year-old Rylee Beth Brown read the book she selected after updating her mailing address.

2- 3- Bedford County Imagination Library Board members work the enrollment booth at the Child Safety Fun Fair. From left are Luci Taylor, Shelly Gray, Mary Ann Nelson. All three are involved in early childhood education serving as a playgroup facilitator, child care provider and pre-K teacher.