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by Patty Cheffey
With the help of the community, children could soon learn the joys of reading.
The Palmyra Parents as Teachers program, along with help from the United Way, is launching the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Palmyra, which will bring a high quality, age-appropriate book to children from birth to age five every month–for free.
In order to make it free for all children, members of the community are being asked to donate to the program, which is being spear-headed by Kathy Nicholson, R-I PAT director.
“It cost $2.10 per book per month, so for a $25 donation, a child will get a book once a month for a year,” Nicholson said. “For $125, that child gets a book a month for the entire five years.
“When a child gets mail, and gets mail with their name on it, they get so excited,” Nicholson added. “And the books are age specific, so babies will get board books and on up with the last books on their fifth birthday.”
Nicholson stressed parents do not have to join or be a current member of PAT in order to sign up their child to get books.
“It’s open to anyone in the school district,” she said, noting children must be enrolled in the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program, however, to get the free books.
Stacey Jones has already signed up her children, Blake, 3, and Abigail, nine months, for the program.
“Kids can do without toys, but they can’t do without books,” said Jones, noting she goes to garage sales and brings home books, even though the family already has shelves of books.
“Early literature is so important,” she added. “We’re constantly reading to our children. Even Blake at three ‘reads’ and tells me what the pictures are all about.”
Both Jones and Nicholson noted the elementary school now has “Word Wednesday,” and children ask to wear clothes with words on them.
Nicholson said she has been interested in the program for quite a while, but wanted to make sure it was sustainable before starting it.
“I never wanted to start and not be able to continue it,” she said, adding the program is per child, not per family.
“If there are three children in the family, each child will get an age appropriate book,” Nicholson said, adding the application process is ongoing and families can join at any time.
While the United Way provided the seed money for the program a little over a year ago, it took that year to get out and talk to the community about the program.
“We have gotten some donations through visiting with the community,” Nicholson said, noting the Palmyra United Methodist Women, BLP, PEO-Chapter IE and Kay Obermann have made donations.
Nicholson has distributed brochures throughout the community for those needing more information and who are interested in making a donation.
Brochures can be found at the PAT office at the Palmyra Elementary School, the elementary school office, the Marion County Library, Subdistrict #1, City Hall, Dr. Adrienne Lynn, DDS office, Palmyra Clinic, Hannibal Clinic, Palmyra Spectator and all five banks.
For information, to make a donation or to enroll a child in the program, contact Nicholson at 573-769-2191. Families can also enroll their children online through the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library website.
Checks for donations should be made out to the Palmyra R-I School District memo Dolly Parton, Nicholson said.
Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gift program in the world.
The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non profit organization, has gifted well over 182 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and the Republic of Ireland.