SIDNEY — Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has exceeded all expections in Shelby County.
The Shelby County Library and the Shelby County United Way launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library with a community celebration in March 2015. To date, 2,210 children are receiving age appropriate books monthly in Shelby County. This number represents 63 percent of all children under the age of 5.
“Our 5 year goal was to enroll 60 percent of our children under the age of 5. We are ecstatic that we achieved that in our first two years. We have since raised the expectations and our new goal is 70 percent enrollment. It would be quite an accomplishment if seven out of every 10 children entered kindergarten being exposed to quality age appropriate books from birth,” said Scott Barr, Shelby County United Way director.
The evidence-based program mails a brand new book each month to children under the age of 5. According to the evidence, children who participate in the program from birth are better prepared for Kindergarten, spend more time with their care givers, and visit their local libraries more often.
Wilson Health joined the collaboration and enrolls newborns at the birthing center, a national best practice. The community response has been overwhelming as enrollment goals have been surpassed.
All communities are seeing success with enrollments and the community libraries in the villages are assisting in promoting the initiative. Enrollment numbers by village: Anna 225, Botkins 104, Fort Loramie 188, Houston 66, Jackson Center 54, Maplewood 33, Russia 110, Sidney 1,326, outlying communities in Shelby County 104 for a total of 2,210 children. More than 39,000 books have been mailed since the start of the program and more than 2,000 books are mailed monthly.
The investment to adopt Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Shelby County has exceeded $55,000 a year to the community funders. In addition to the Shelby County Library and the Shelby County United Way, program funders include Sidney Alrtrusa, Sidney Kiwanis, Sidney Rotary, Midwest Regional ESC, Sidney City Schools, the Monarch Legacy Fund, POWER, Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Wilson Health.
“As Executive Director for Shelby County Libraries, I am thrilled to be a part of this program,” said Suzanne Cline. “Seeing children reading is something that the library continues to strive toward. Parents are encouraged to share a favorite photo of their child reading an Imagination Library Book on social media with #SCimaginationlibrary.”
Parents of children participating in the Imagination Library program have made numerous positive comments:
“Thank you for the books! My son loves them. Each month when they get here I let him help me open them. He’s starting to enjoy reading along with me.”
“You make our daily trips to the mailbox so much fun! It’s like Christmas when we open it and see our book.”
“Thank you so much for the beautiful book my son receives. What a fantastic initiative to help instill a lifelong love of books in children.”
To enroll a Shelby County child under the age of 5, visit imaginationlibrary.com and click (Register My Child). Once enrolled, a child will start to receive books in 6 to 8 weeks.