AMAZON IGNITES EARLY CHILDHOOD LITERACY WITH $6,250 DONATION TO BRADLEY COUNTY IMAGINATION LIBRARY
Bradley among four Tennessee counties with Amazon fulfillment centers to receive gift from online retailer
CLEVELAND, Tenn. – The United Way of Bradley County thanked Amazon – the world’s largest online retailer and a statewide partner of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) – for its recent $6,250 contribution to the Bradley County Imagination Library at an event today hosted by Stepping Stones Preschool.
The gift was one-fourth of Amazon’s total donation to the GBBF ($25,000), which was distributed evenly among the four counties where Amazon has fulfillment centers – Bradley, Hamilton, Rutherford and Wilson – and used to provide free, high-quality, age-appropriate books to preschool children (up to 5 years old) living in those areas. Jaynese Waddell, Imagination Library program leader and impact associate at the United Way of Bradley County, thanked Amazon for its generosity, citing the tremendous impact the gift will make in the local community.
“The United Way of Bradley County sponsors the Imagination Library program because we understand the value of books in the home from birth,” Waddell said. “Amazon’s generosity will help more children acquire the building blocks of reading in the communities where its employees live and work – a win-win for the entire county.”
The company known for shipping its distinctive packages to consumers’ doorsteps is helping the GBBF and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library put books in the mailboxes of Tennessee’s youngest readers.
“As the world’s leading online retailer, Amazon has become virtually synonymous with ‘books,’ and its generous gift of $25,000 to the GBBF only strengthens that association,” said Theresa Carl, GBBF president. “We are truly grateful to Amazon for its commitment to ensuring that free books reach preschool children and investing in their growth and development.”
Scott Campbell, Amazon’s Charleston Fulfillment Center outbound senior operations manager, was on hand to read a book to a class of preschoolers.
Keith Stevens, general manager of Amazon’s Charleston Fulfillment Center, expressed his company’s continuing support for the cause of early childhood literacy.
“Amazon is thrilled to be a part of the Bradley County community,” Stevens said. “I speak for all of my colleagues at the Charleston Fulfillment Center in saying we are honored to be able to give back by investing in the growth and development of our children in the area. Amazon is pleased to partner with the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and the United Way of Bradley County in the mission of expanding early childhood literacy and encouraging a love of reading.”
All of Tennessee’s 408,000 children younger than age 5 have access to the Imagination Library, and an Imagination Library program affiliate exists in all 95 counties in the state. Begun by Dolly Parton in 1996 as a gift to the children in her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn., the Imagination Library mails one new, high-quality, age-appropriate book every month to registered children, from birth until age 5 – at no cost to families, regardless of income. Nearly 18 million books have been delivered since the GBBF’s inception in October 2004. Approximately $24 annually (or $2 per book) provides for the purchase and delivery of 12 books to one child. With funding support from the Tennessee General Assembly, various foundations, individual donors and small businesses, and a host of corporate sponsors, the GBBF matches ($12 per book, per child) all funds raised by each of Tennessee’s Imagination Library program affiliates – a dynamic public-private partnership unlike any other in the U.S.
Tennessee is the only state to have the Imagination Library program in every one of its counties.
An increasing amount of research points to the universally positive impact of having books in the home. Imagination Library participants from both low-income and middle-income households arrive to kindergarten more prepared to learn than nonparticipants. A 2010 study indicated that simply having more books around the house correlates to a child’s completing more years of formal education. In January of this year, a team of researchers concluded that reading to a child in an interactive style can raise the child’s IQ by as much as six points.
Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out later. In a recent study conducted by the Urban Child Institute, research showed that programs like the Imagination Library lead to early childhood language development, school readiness, grade progression, on-time graduation and college attendance.
“The benefit of putting books in the hands of Tennessee’s preschoolers is truly immeasurable,” Carl said.
About the GBBF:
The mission of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation is to sustain and strengthen Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in all 95 Tennessee counties, ensuring that new, age-appropriate books are mailed to Tennessee’s preschool children, at no cost to the family and regardless of income. To learn how to support your county’s Imagination Library program, or for information on how to register a child, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org or www.facebook.com/TNImaginationLibrary, or call toll-free at (877) 99-BOOKS.