At a time when we should all be finding ways to expand our children’s access to reading and learning as much as possible, Ohio is enjoying a victory.
Country music superstar Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, in partnership with the Ohio Governor’s Office, is thriving — and that means more kids are, too.
Early childhood development and education are essential. According to the Ohio Imagination Library website, 80% of a child’s brain is developed by age 3. And “by the time a child enters kindergarten, he must already know thousands of words to succeed in the classroom. Reading aloud to a child and giving them access to books is the best way to ensure they are ready to enter kindergarten,” the website states.
Having more books at home means a greater chance of success. But we realize that not every family in Ohio has the extra financial leeway to stock the shelves with books. Luckily, that’s where Parton and his partners come in. Imagination Library was also a favorite project of Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine.
Tens of thousands of books from the Library of Imagination have been sent to children across Ohio. Many are currently enrolled and many more have already graduated from the program, statewide.
In Mahoning County, 6,522 children are enrolled in the program out of 12,810 eligible children. In Mahoning County, the program is administered by United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.
In Trumbull County, 4,213 of the county’s 11,646 eligible children are enrolled. The Trumbull County program is administered by United Way of Trumbull County.
We know the program works. In Cincinnati, for example, where Children’s Hospital began its partnership with the Imagination Library in 2015, children experienced a 15.4% increase in kindergarten readiness rating among those who participated. program for three years. Consider the value to our own community of knowing that so many children also have the opportunity to experience such improvement.
Certainly, the Imagination Library deserves our support – and there’s a donate button on ohioimaginationlibrary.org – but we also need to spread the word and encourage parents of all young children to sign up for this wonderful program.
Our community will be better for it.