The Valley Wire
Instilling a lifelong love of books
Dolly Parton Imagination Library enjoying success in Wolfville, Kentville
Books open up new worlds to young children, exposing them to words and ways of using language.
Books also give children information about the world around them, paving the way to learn new subjects once they start school.
“Reading is both educational and entertaining and it’s something we all need in our lives,” says Alice Green, branch manager at Wolfville Memorial Library. “If children learn to love reading at a young age they will continue throughout their lives.”
Each month more than 100 children under the age of five in the Wolfville and Kentville areas receive a special delivery to their home. It’s a book specifically chosen for the child’s age group.
In February 2019, the Wolfville Memorial Library became part of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, an international program launched by the renowned country music artist. The program mails free, high-quality books to children under age five, regardless of their family’s income.
“The Mud Creek Rotary and some community members started the program in this area and the library became the administrator,” Green explains.
Parton launched the program in 1995 in Sevier County, Tennessee, where the singer grew up. The program grew and expanded and by 2003 it had mailed out one million books. In 2006, the program expanded into Canada. Each year more books featuring Canadian author and illustrators, with Canadian themes and subjects, are added to the program.
The Imagination Library has a selection committee made up of early childhood literacy experts that reviews hundreds of titles for potential inclusion. Children of the same age receive the same book each month, and so when they begin school they have all covered similar reading material.
“The books chosen for the program are all quality books,” Green points out. “There are no cheap knockoffs.”
Kids are never too young to enjoy books, Green adds. She also runs the Babies and Books program at the Wolfville Community Library, for children under two years of age, so she sees first-hand the positive impact books have on the very young.
“We sing songs, play with shakers and read books, and they see how the pictures, words, stories and music all go together.”
The Mud Creek Rotary and Kentville Rotary provide the local portion of the funding for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, at a cost of $3.85 per child each month.
Parents can go to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library website and type in their postal code to see if there is coverage in their area. There is currently a waiting list, Green adds.
“We get new requests every week,” she says. “As the kids graduate out of the program when they turn five, we can add new people.”
Getting books into the hands of children sets them up for success in life, Green adds.
“Children need to see, hear and experience literacy at a young age,” she says. “Literacy opens up more options in life.”