RICHMOND COUNTY: For two-year old Harrison, it seems like Christmas comes every month and his daily checks of the mailbox are rewarded with the latest book from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library addressed to him personally.
Each month, enrolled children receive a high quality, age appropriate book in the mail, free-of-charge. Children receive books from birth to age five. Each age group has a unique selection of books, which are updated annually with new choices – many of them by Canadian authors or illustrators. The added benefit is that children within the same household receive different books.
As a Local Champion, the Richmond County Literacy Network (RCLN) began registering children from Richmond County in the program in January, 2015, with the first children receiving their books in March of that year. In partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the RCLN funds the arrival of a book a month from birth until the child turns five.
To date, 354 children have been enrolled in the program, with 168 having graduated. Graduating children receive a special book with a message from Dolly herself the month they turn five; Nancy Carlson’s, Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come.
This month marks a special milestone for both the literacy network and Kelby McGrath Sullivan. Sullivan was the first child enrolled in the program; his grandmother enrolled him as soon as he was born.
“Five years later, and they’re still so excited to read their books. I’m so sad to see it ending for him,” says grandmother Susan McGrath who also revealed Kelby’s favourite selection, The Northern Alphabet.
She went on to highlight a benefit of enrolling each child in the family, “luckily for us, his younger cousins and sister will still be getting books of their own.”
Reading the books from the Imagination Library became a sibling bonding activity for Charley Jane and her two older brothers.
“She’s been getting them to read to her – it’s just been so good for everyone!” said her mother.
When asked about her favourite book, four year-old Sophie began sharing some Lion Lessons, complete with a roar before pausing and adding, “at bed I’m going to read Petra.”
While each child may have their own favourite books, it’s clear that they all share a love of books. By reading to a child for as little as 15 minutes a day, parents and guardians can help foster their love of books and reading. Those who live in Richmond County and wish to enroll their child in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, can contact the Richmond County Literacy Network at 902-226-0383. The enrollment form can also be printed by going to: http://rcln.ca/programs/imagination-library/.