MIAMI COUNTY — For the last few years, Imagination Library has been providing free monthly book deliveries to thousands of children in Miami County. Now the program is seeking additional funding to be able to keep growing.
“We are not able to enroll any new children until we have funding secured for this year — we have about 60 on a waiting list,” Troy-Miami County Public Library Director Rachelle Miller said.
About 3,000 children are currently enrolled in the program in Miami County at no cost to their families. Last year, 37,924 books were sent to Miami County children.
Registered children receive one new book every month, mailed directly to them, until they reach their fifth birthday. The goal of the project is to foster closer family relationships while increasing kindergarten readiness skills, Miller said.
The program, which costs about $80,000 year, is supported by area foundations and United Way agencies. In order to grow and enroll more children, the coordinators have organized fundraisers and have applied for several grants. They are also hoping to secure sponsorships for the program.
“We’ve been supported very well by the foundations and the United Way agencies in Miami County, but it would be difficult for them to continue to fund it indefinitely,” she said.
According to Miller, the program has spent $19,833 so far this year and has received $3,250 from the Allstate Foundation, Troy Rotary, and a fundraiser at Leaf & Vine. A fundraising event is being planned for May 6 at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Imagination Library was founded in 1995 by country music legend Dolly Parton. She wanted to give children in her Tennessee hometown access to books. The program has grown since then to include communities across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
The Troy-Miami County Public Library introduced the Imagination Library project in 2014.
According to a 2016 survey conducted by the library, 97 percent of the 515 parents surveyed said they read to their child several times a week or more. More than half said they now read to their child several times a day.
Before starting the program, only 21 percent of parents read to their child more than once a day and 18 percent read to their child once a week or less.
Responses from families surveyed include:
• “She gets really excited when a new book comes in. The extra time spent reading will help with school and she likes reading with other family members besides my husband and I, that helps socially.”
• “He’s pushing to learn and understand more. I read the book, then he goes through and tells me eve- rything he remembers or sees, if there’s something he doesn’t know, he questions it. His vocabulary has excelled, understanding of emotions and I think it’s helping him mature into a school aged kid well.”
• “We’ve spent many, many hours of reading time together. These books got my son through his first words, potty training, and fear of the dark. We treasure so many of the stories, and know they will stay in his library for his children to enjoy.”
For more information about the project or to find out how to make a donation, call the library at (937) 339-0502. The Troy-Miami County Public Library is a 501c3 non-profit and donations are tax deductible.
“This is a great program and, based on survey responses, we know that it benefits parents and children in Miami County. We hope to continue it for years to come,” Miller said.
Reach Cecilia Fox at [email protected]