Dolly Parton Reading Program for Kids Taking Off in Boyle County
Posted at 2:09 p.m. on Monday, August 8, 2022
Ja Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a national program that provides books for 5-year-olds and under. Since Boyle County joined the program in May, it has beaten three-year membership forecasts, having already enrolled nearly half of all preschoolers in the county.
Cindy Blevins is a retired educator and now works part-time at the Boyle County Library. She played a pivotal role in launching the program.
“I had no doubt that we would register more children than expected, but I would not be satisfied even when we reach 65% saturation, which is the statewide goal,” said Blevins. “Honestly, I will never be satisfied with these goals, because it always means that there is one more child who could receive an age-appropriate book as a gift every month at home.”
She went on to explain that the program not only helps improve children’s readiness for kindergarten, but also brings families closer together.
“I think we all agree that literacy is important, but we don’t really define why,” she said. “I’ve heard from parents how proud their children are to receive a book in the mail with their name on it and they want to read it again and again. . . .By reading together, families talk about books and spend quality time together.
Plaid Elephant Books owner Kate Snyder is also one of the people who helped start the program in Boyle County. She said it was inspiring to see the community working together for a good cause.
“It was a really cool way to see all these different Boyle County entities working together to get more books for kids,” she said.
She said she had a passion for getting kids to read and her bookstore could help me.market the program.
“I thought the bookstore could be a good hub for getting information out to families,” she said.
She recommends all families with children under 5 to join the program.
A Center College professor and associate with Heart of Kentucky Kids, which helps provide early childhood care and education in Boyle and Mercer County, Patten Mahler, Ph.D., said the program’s early success has shifts the focus from initial enrollment to long-term sustainability. She is confident that the program will be able to continue with the support of the community due to the overwhelming positive response and popularity the program has had.
A group of high school students participating in Center College’s Governor’s Scholars class “The Thing About Dolly” took the initiative to help raise funds for the continued support of the program. Fellows collected items from local businesses and works by local artists to launch an online auction where they raised $1,800 for the program. They even helped put up posters promoting the Library of the Imagination in the windows of several local businesses.
If you have a child under the age of five and would like to enroll in the program, you can check availability by visiting imaginationlibrary.com. You can also donate at www.hkykids.org.