Imagination Library provides children with a free new book every month through their fifth birthday. Dolly Parton started Imagination Library in 1995, to fight illiteracy in her eastern Tennessee community. Research shows that disadvantaged children come to school years behind their peers in pre-reading skills, and rarely catch up, and that the children still struggling to read in 3rd grade are the ones who eventually drop out.
Evaluations indicate that Imagination Library is getting kids more interested in reading, as well as, getting parents more comfortable reading to their children. Children are mailed an age-appropriate book directly to their homes each month to build their own private library. Only 2 out of 10 low-income children in Polk County enter Kindergarten ready to read. For that reason, low-income sites are targeted when enrolling children.
Local sponsors currently include the Friends of the Bartow Library, Bartow Rotary, Lake Wales Library Association and Florida’s Natural Growers Foundation. The program is currently available for all of Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties. The average sponsorship cost per child in Polk County is only $2.50 per month and a $3,000 sponsorship provides 100 children with one book per month for a full year! In fiscal year 2020/21, 17,282books were mailed to children!
Dolly Parton Libraries are a component of “Let’s Grow. Every child. Every chance.” – a community initiative working to increase early literacy.
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