Editorial: Early reading program helps kids get head start

A recent editorial by the Youngstown Vindicator:

In an era where we all should be finding ways to grow our children’s access to reading and learning as possible, Ohio is experiencing a victory.

Country music superstar Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, in partnership with the Ohio Governor’s Office, is thriving — and that means more kids are, too.

Early childhood development and education are essential. According to the Ohio Imagination Library website, 80% of a child’s brain has developed by age 3. And, “By the time a child enters kindergarten, they must already know thousands of words in order to succeed in the classroom. Reading aloud to a child and giving them access to books is the best way to ensure they are prepared to enter kindergarten,” the website states.

Having more books in the home means a greater chance of success. But we realize not every Ohio family has the extra financial wiggle room to fill shelves with books. Fortunately, that’s where Parton and her partners step in. Imagination Library also has been a pet project of Ohio first lady Fran DeWine.

Tens of thousands of Imagination Library books have been mailed to kids all over Ohio. Many are currently enrolled and many others have already graduated from the program, statewide.

… We know the program works. In Cincinnati, for instance, where the Children’s Hospital began its partnership with the Imagination Library in 2015, children experienced a 15.4 percent rise in Kindergarten Readiness Assessment among those who participated in the program for three years. Consider the value to our own community knowing so many children have the opportunity to experience such improvement, also.

Certainly, Imagination Library deserves our support — and there is a button for donating at ohioimaginationlibrary.org — but we also must spread the word and encourage parents of all young children to enroll in this wonderful program.

Our community will be better for it.

— Youngstown Vindicator, May 18