Annual Statewide Dinner Celebrates Funding Partners with Special Reading

The Governor’s Books from Birth Statewide Partners Dinner was held last week at the Tennessee Executive Residence in Nashville. GBBF’s Statewide Partners Dinner is an annual celebration of our statewide funding partners. Representatives from BlueCross Blue Shield TN, Dollar General, Nissan, Delta Dental, Verizon and Amazon joined the Governor’s Books from Birth Advisory Council and the Governor’s Books from Birth Board of Directors for an evening to celebrate the Imagination Library and its impacts on Tennessee’s children.

Guests enjoyed a lively discussion about reading with Governor and First Lady Haslam, GBBF President Theresa Carl, 4th grader Jackson Campbell, and his grandmother and retired Maury County educator, Mary Ruth Campbell. As a graduate of the Imagination Library, Jackson talked about how the program sparked his love of reading and how it helped him prepare for school.

Governor Haslam: “Jackson, how did you get started reading?”

Jackson: “The Imagination Library sent me my first book.”

TN First Lady Crissy Haslam: “Do you remember getting them [Imagination Library books] out of your mailbox?”

Jackson: “I remember going down to the mailbox with my dad and getting them.”

TN First Lady Crissy Haslam:  “And how did that make you feel?”

Jackson: “Really excited and happy to get to read it.”

Jackson’s grandmother, Mary Ruth Campbell was an educator in Maury County for 39 years. She started reading to Jackson, even before he was born. Mary Ruth said, “Reading with children not only enhances reading skills, but also creates a special bond.”

Mary Ruth pointed out the poster on display at the event that features photos of Jackson at 3 months old and as a toddler, holding books in his hand and a smile on his face. When Jackson was 3 months old, she wrote this letter to the editor to the Signpost, that said, “Just wanted to share this picture of my grandbaby, Jackson, doing what he loves best! Thank you for all you do for our state and community, but especially for Books from Birth. I absolutely think it is one of the best programs in this state!” Check out the photos and poster below: 


After answering questions about the Imagination Library, the importance of reading and his current favorite books, Jackson joined Governor and First Lady Haslam in reading My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza, one of his favorite Imagination Library books. In honor of their support of Tennessee’s Imagination Library, dinner guests received a signed copy of My Lucky Day by Governor and First Lady Haslam.

Click here to view all of the photos from the evening.


Jackson Campbell, his grandmother and mother with Governor and First Lady Haslam


GBBF Board of Directors


GBBF Advisory Council