February is Celebration of Literacy month and we're celebrating the 2,500 five-year-olds who have graduated from from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (DPIL) in Rice County, plus the 1,200 children, birth to 5, who are currently enrolled. Children are always excited to find beautifully written and illustrated, age-appropriate books in the mail, addressed to them, every month thanks to DPIL. Rice County United Way (a merger of Northfield Area United Way and Faribault United Way) has been committed to offering this program free of charge for 15 years.
It's an amazingly efficient program. Books and mailing for one child cost $25 for the entire year! As a partner with Imagination Library, Rice County Area United Way keeps administrative costs to a minimum.*
And the payback is big:
- The greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five. (The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through age 40.” Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 2005)
- Children growing up in homes with at least 20 books get three years' more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class, (Evans, M. D., Kelley, J., Sikora, J., & Treiman, D. J. (2010). Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 28(2), 171-197).
- 61% of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children. (Reading Literacy in the United States: Findings from the IEA Reading Literacy Study. (1996).
- The vast majority of children who start behind, stay behind, leading to an increase in our nation’s drop-outs rate among low-income and minority students. (America’s Early Childhood. Jumpstart, 2009).
Another reason we're proud of this program is that it allows children to develop special bonds with parents and caregivers. The books, two of which are bilingual in Spanish and English each year, significantly increase the time parents and caregivers spend with children.
If you would like more information about signing up your child, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 507-664-3510. If you would like to support one or more local children in receiving books, please consider a donation of $30/child so more local children can be inspired to love books.
HEADS UP! Rice County Area United Way is delighted to share our new, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Facebook page; "like" the page here! Keep up on DPIL news and special literacy events.
Sincerely, someone who has her nose in a book most evenings,
Elizabeth Child, executive director
*We'd like to thank Mayo Clinic Health System, Faribault; Allina Hospital, Faribault; and our donors for grants and contributions that support Dolly Parton's Imagination in Rice County.