NASHVILLE, TENN. – Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam joined the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) in celebrating Imagination Library Week on Wednesday by reading to children at Wayne Reed Child Care Center and discussing the critical impact books can have in the life of a child.
“The Imagination Library program reaches more than 200,000 children each year,” said Governor Haslam. “It puts books in the hands of children, and by doing so, increases their readiness for school, encourages a love of reading and opens the door to a lifetime of learning.”
“Reading to the children today was a wonderful way to commemorate Imagination Library Week,” said Tennessee First Lady Haslam. “Research shows that reading aloud to children is strongly related to academic achievement later in life. The Imagination Library, with a presence in all 95 Tennessee counties, is one of the best programs we have in Tennessee to promote early literacy with children and families.”
Every year during Imagination Library Week, local Imagination Library affiliates in all 95 counties host events to raise awareness and boost program enrollment across the state. There is much to celebrate; this year more than 200,00 Tennessee children, under the age of 5, are receiving free, high-quality, age-appropriate books which are delivered to their homes each month. Since 2004, more than 18.5 million books have been delivered to children across the state.
The event also honored Dollar General’s long-time support of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) and its mission to ensure that all of Tennessee’s children have access to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
“Dollar General is an important partner for the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation,” said GBBF President Theresa Carl. “Since 2006, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded the GBBF more than $600,000 to help provide books to children across the state. Our dynamic public-private partnership plays a critical role in ensuring the Tennessee Imagination Library continues to lay a strong foundation for school readiness and future academic success.”
“Research shows that access to printed materials, not poverty, is one of the critical variables affecting reading comprehension,” said Denine Torr, director of community initiatives for Dollar General. “Through our support of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, we hope to help children not only experience the joy of reading but help them enter school on a level playing field with their peers.”
Since its inception in 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $85 million in grants to nonprofit literacy organizations that have helped more than 4.8 million individuals learn to read, prepare for the GED or learn English. To learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s grant initiatives visit www.dgliteracy.org.
All of Tennessee’s 407,000 children under age five 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, the Imagination Library mails one new, high-quality, age-appropriate book every month to registered children, from birth until age five – at no cost to families and regardless of income. More than 18 million books have been delivered since the GBBF’s inception in 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 a host of private 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.
To see a list of all Imagination Library events happening across the state, please visit www.governorsfoundation.org. The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation encourages all Tennesseans to either enroll their children and support their local county’s Imagination Library so that all children can receive free books. Donations to individual county Imagination Library programs can also be made at www.governorsfoundation.org
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 non-participants. A 2010 study indicated that simply having more books around the house correlates to a child’s completing more years of formal education.
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.
About Dollar General
Dollar General is a leading discount retailer with nearly 11,000 stores in 40 states. Dollar General stores provide convenience and value to customers by offering consumable basic items such as food, snacks, health and beauty aids and cleaning supplies, as well as basic apparel, house wares and seasonal items at everyday low prices. The company has a longstanding tradition of supporting literacy and education. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $85 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 4.8 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. To learn more about Dollar General, visit www.dgliteracy.org.
About the GBBF
The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, puts free, high-quality, age-appropriate books in the hands of registered Tennessee preschoolers statewide. Its mission is to support the ongoing, statewide operation of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library – assisting all Tennessee preschool children by developing their vocabularies, boosting their school readiness, and fostering a love of learning and reading – and ensure that free, high quality, age-appropriate books are mailed once a month directly to these children’s homes, from birth until age five. To learn about enrolling a child or supporting the program, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org or call toll-free at 1-877-99-BOOKS.