Women United: Free books for all Routt County children from birth to age 5 | SteamboatToday.com

Women United: Free books for all Routt County children from birth to age 5

Barbara Hughes
Women United of Routt County United Way
Through the Dolly Part Imagination Library, every child in Routt County can receive free books from birth to age 5.
Karen Sebold/Courtesy Dollywood Foundation

How many parents in Routt County would like free books for their young children? We hope all of them. That is why Women United of Routt County United Way has become an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Dolly Parton says, “You can never get enough books into the hands of enough children,” and we couldn’t agree more. That is why Women United sponsors the Dolly Parton Imagination Library here in Routt County.

What is it and where is it you might ask?

Well, it is an early literacy book-giving program committed to sharing a love of reading. Every month the Imagination Library mails free high-quality, age-appropriate books to registered children, in their own name, from birth until their fifth birthday.

That means by the time a child is ready for kindergarten, they will have their own library of 60 books, all free of charge. The books are selected each year by a panel of early literacy professionals recruited by The Dollywood Foundation and include two bilingual titles per year.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was launched in Sevier County, Tennessee, in 1995 and became such a success that in 2000 a national replication effort was underway.

Today the program is available throughout the U.S. and has expanded to Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland. Colorado’s state legislators and Gov. Jared Polis have pledged their support of the program by providing a 50% funding match for all affiliates in Colorado.

Research has indicated that it is never too early to start reading to a child because a reading voice is comforting to a baby and 85% of brain development occurs by age 3. It has been found that reading builds neural pathways.

In other words, reading builds brains. Studies have shown that children who have been read to possess the foundation for understanding grammar and spelling skills. They gain background knowledge that helps them understand what they read, intuitively know how to write, and the comprehension and concentration skills they develop transfer to all subjects.

Children who have been read to for 20 minutes a day and who then read on their own consistently score in the 90th percentile on standardized tests. A child read to for 5 minutes per day usually scores in the 50th percentile and a child read to for only 1 minute a day will score in the 10th percentile.

Women United wants to see every child be successful in school. That is why we invite you to register your child for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library today, whether you have a newborn or a 4-year-old, or any age in between. It’s never too early or too late to develop a love of reading.

Each child under 5 years of age in the family should be registered individually so that they will receive their own special age-appropriate books. Please note that it normally takes approximately 8 weeks after registration for the first book to arrive.

To register, visit RouttCountyUnitedWay.org/Imagination-Library or scan the QR code available on posters at the UCHealth Birth Center at Yampa Valley Medical Center and local daycares and preschools.

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