Thoughtful Parenting: Reading builds brains

Barbara Hughes
Thoughtful Parenting
Children enrolled in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library will receive a free book every month from birth through age 5 mailed directly to their home address.
Dollywood Foundation/Courtesy photo

Spring has finally arrived, and now is the perfect time to get out and enjoy our beautiful Yampa Valley.

If you have children, we suggest strolling through StoryWalk on the path along the Yampa River between The Depot and the Stockbridge Transit Center. StoryWalk is an early literacy program sponsored by Women United of Routt County United Way in partnership with the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

Seasonally themed children’s stories are displayed in panels all along the path. If you have children from newborns through age 5, be sure to scan the QR code on the last panel to register them to receive free books every month. Yes, you read that correctly. Read on to learn more.

Women United of Routt County United Way is the local affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Every child who is registered for the program will receive a free high quality, age-appropriate book every month from birth through age 5 mailed directly to his or her home address.

The books are selected by a team of early literacy professionals at the Dollywood Foundation and change from year to year, including two bi-lingual titles annually. The only books that remain the same are the first book, which is “The Little Engine That Could” and the final book, which is “Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come.”

If you have more than one child, each child will receive their own books and, if registered at birth, will have their own personal library of 60 books by the time they are ready for kindergarten.

With all the technology available today, it is very tempting to slip a smartphone or tablet into your little one’s hands to keep them occupied. However, research has shown that animated stories are a bit overwhelming for developing brains.

In contrast, a parent or caregiver’s reading voice is soothing to infants. Further research has shown that neural pathways in the brain that support imagery, language and attention are strongest when reading illustrated picture books. In other words, reading builds brains.

To register your child to receive free books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library courtesy of Women United, go to or scan the following QR code.

Barbara Hughes is a volunteer for Women United of Routt County United Way.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.