Cincinnati (July 29, 2020) — A program connected to County-singing superstar Dolly Parton launches today in Clermont County with a goal of providing free books to more than 2,000 local preschoolers.
The Clermont County Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library will soon mail age-appropriate books to 2,400 children age 0-5 before the 2020-2021 school year begins. To sign up and receive a free book mailed to your child, visit the Clermont County Public Library’s website, ClermontLibrary.org/Imagination-Library.
United Way of Greater Cincinnati and the Clermont County Public Library formed the partnership to bring the program to Clermont County. It is an extension of the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program started in 1995 to mail free, high-quality books to preschool children. The first books were distributed in Sevier County, TN, where Parton grew up, but word spread, the program went national, and by 2003, had distributed more than 1 million books. It is now a world-wide program.
United Way’s Eastern Area Center brought together the Dollywood Foundation, Clermont County Public Library, the Ohio Governor’s Office and others to initiate the program to Clermont County.
“This program aligns well with our focus on quality education and our Success by Six initiatives of promoting early literacy and kindergarten readiness as well as encouraging parent-child interaction,” said Moira Weir, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “We know early reading is a foundation for a lifetime of academic success and we’re happy to bring this program to Clermont County. United is the way to quality education.”
Parents who sign their children up will receive a free book delivered to their home every month. If the program hits its goal of 2,400, it will serve about 12 percent of the eligible population in Clermont County.
“That would be a great start to reaching all children in Clermont County by the end of 2021,” said Erika Yingling, director of United Way’s Eastern Area Center. “We hope others will join together to support this expansion and ensure children start off with the reading material they need to super-charge their imagination.”
Making the public library the focal point of the program will spur increased reading engagement, Yingling said. She added that the program was supported by more than $8,500 in funds, including grants from Duke Energy Foundation and Connect Clermont.