Imagination Library helps area children

March 2020 for most people does not bring memories of the start of something wonderful. But it was. Here in Ohio, it was the launch of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. Now, by one measure, Ohio has the highest percentage of children enrolled in the country.

“So, a state like Tennessee has been doing it for a long time and they have a higher percentage,” First Lady Fran DeWine said recently. “But we have more kids getting it every month than any other state.”

According to reporting by WLWT-TV in Cincinnati, there are 301,457 children — 43 percent of Buckeye State children between birth and age 5 — enrolled. And that, according to DeWine, means that when a newborn is enrolled in the program, she or he will receive 60 books before entering kindergarten.

Study after study points to the importance of developing reading skills at an early age. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, for example, reports that after three years in the program, children were 15 points higher in the kindergarten readiness category. A study done by the University of Nevada, meanwhile, shows that a child with 25 books in his or home will complete an average of two additional years of schooling compared to their peers without books in their home.

The program is seen as being so critical, in fact, that the General Assembly has earmarked $16 million so the program can continue its work

In our region, the United Way of Jefferson County is listed as a local champion for Jefferson and Harrison counties and can be contacted at (740) 284-9000 for information.

“No matter … how old the kids are when they start the Imagination Library, the very first book they get is ‘The Little Engine That Could’,” DeWine told WLWT. “That’s Dolly Parton’s favorite.”

Children enrolled in the program get a new book in the mail every month through their fifth birthday.

That is an incredible gift. It is the kind of thing that can do some real good, not just for kids, but for Ohio as a whole. Parton has the right idea, and it is fantastic to see Ohio parents taking advantage of the program.


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