What could Dolly Parton, Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine and a public-private collaboration of Clinton Countians possibly have in common?
Read on … because you can join them and many others to make a difference in kids’ lives and their futures — through reading.
A major effort is kicking off this week in Clinton County to promote early childhood literacy, and it all starts with our imaginations — combined with local parents, their kids (between birth and age 5), and the kindness and generosity of businesses and individuals.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is the only program of its kind open to all children, regardless of their parents’ socioeconomic status. With a 25-year track record of providing children with dynamic, high-quality books, they are the perfect partner to bring more books into the homes of children across Ohio.
Not all children have digital or internet access in their homes. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library ensures children are receiving a new book every month regardless of their access to the internet or their family’s ability to travel to their local library.
The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library (OHGIL) is starting a new chapter in early childhood literacy across Ohio — through its partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to put more books in the hands of Ohio’s children — working to ensure that every student enters kindergarten ready to succeed.
OHGIL is a statewide non-profit committed to paying half of the cost of the program at least for the first two years as part of a mandate from the state government that was funded in the current budget.
Additionally, Amy Volz with the Wilmington Public Library wrote a local Lucas Fund grant application that was accepted as part of the initial fundraising efforts.
And the Clinton County Foundation agreed to be the fiscal agent for the program.
Dolly Parton’s home state of Tennessee was the first adopter of this statewide model. In a 2014 study, researchers found that children who participated in the program scored significantly higher on their Kindergarten Literacy Assessment and this trend continued through third grade.
Parents also reported reading more together as a family than those whose children were not Imagination Library participants.
The public libraries of Wilmington, Blanchester and Sabina have been on the ground floor of this project and have been huge in planning and promoting it with Wilmington Public Library Director Joe Knueven the committee chair.
It couldn’t have come together without individuals and organizations including Wilmington Kiwanis, R+L Carriers and Ahresty as well as the Clinton County Health District, local school districts, Clinton Memorial Hospital, and the Clinton County Foundation.
Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) companies have made a major funding commitment so this effort could quickly kick-off in Clinton County.
ATSG CEO Joe Hete “has great memories of reading to his children, so this struck a chord with him and many others on our management team,” said ATSG Marketing Manager Kym Parks.
On Wednesday leadership from ATSG, Airborne, ABX Air, ATI, and LGSTX were out in force reading to six Head Start classrooms in Wilmington and Clinton-Massie. “We are gifting five aviation-themed books to each room as well,” said Parks.
Register your child
Then, beginning Friday, March 6, you can register your preschool-age child at: https://ohioimaginationlibrary.org/ .
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine will be at the Blanchester Public Library on Friday reading to children and promoting the registration effort that her and Gov. Mike DeWine firmly support, along with the Ohio General Assembly and corporate sponsors.
How to donate locally
Donors can choose to sponsor many children or one child for as little as $25 a year.
There are several ways donors can make a gift to the Imagination Library Fund at the Clinton County Foundation. Its website www.clintoncountyohiofoundation.org has a Giving portal where anyone can make a credit card donation to the Imagination Library.
Donors can make a one-time gift, or they may set up an account and an incremental amount will be debited monthly. Others may choose to write a check or give cash.
The Foundation’s mailing address is P.O. Box 831, Wilmington, OH 45177. If a donor has any questions about the Imagination Library fund, they can call at 937-566-1634.
For more information on the program overall, visit ohioimaginationlibrary.org/ .