Eugene Public Library is happy to announce a new service to support parents in raising “reading ready” young children.
Parents in the City of Eugene can now sign up each of their children to receive a brand-new book in the mail every month from birth through age four. The high-quality, age-specific books are free to the family and a gift for each child to keep.
This service is made possible through a partnership of Eugene Public Library, the Eugene Public Library Foundation, and a national non-profit, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Families of preschool-age children, including newborns, can register for the program regardless of income level. Approximately 7900 children aged birth through four currently live in the City of Eugene and are eligible for this service.
Imagination Library is an early literacy program based on a simple premise: get plenty of age-appropriate books into the hands of young children on a monthly basis. The goal is to help develop literacy skills before a child ever sets foot in a classroom. The monthly deliveries help build excitement about reading, and serve as a built-in reminder and opportunity for parents to read with their kids.
According to Eugene Public Library Director Connie Bennett, “Right now, only 50% of incoming kindergartners in Lane County meet the Oregon benchmarks for early literacy. That means those children are behind even before they start.”
“But the good news,” says Bennett, “is that we know ways to fix that. The research is clear: reading with your children early and often is absolutely crucial to their future educational success. One of our library’s primary aims is to support Eugene kids’ reading readiness before they start school. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a terrific opportunity for our city – and it’s really fun, too.”
Country music icon Dolly Parton started the Imagination Library program in 1996 to help Tennessee children in the impoverished Great Smoky Mountain region where she grew up. She wanted to foster a love of reading to help them succeed in school and in life. In 2000, Parton’s Dollywood Foundation made the program available to any community willing to partner on it. To date, Imagination Library has mailed almost 40,000,000 books to children on three continents. Studies have shown that Imagination Library dramatically improves early childhood literacy for children enrolled in the program.
Says Parton, “I hope every family will experience the joy and wonder of their child’s imagination as they read about the world and learn its many surprises. If my Imagination Library helps turn the dreams of a child into the promise of a bright future, then one of my biggest dreams will come true.”
The Eugene Public Library Foundation has committed to funding the local portion of costs for the program through contributions from organizational sponsors and individual donors. Because of the cost efficiencies built into the large-scale Imagination Library, a full year’s worth of books for a child can be provided for a donation of only $25 to the Eugene Public Library Foundation.