Reading Engagement Workshop Tops 130 Attendees in Obion County

UNION CITY, Tenn. – At an event held on August 27 at the Union City Hampton Inn, nationally recognized arts education expert Michell Korn led a workshop for parents, caregivers and educators that focused on creative and interactive ways to engage a child in the love of reading. The event had a packed house, as over 130 people showed up to learn creative ways to engage children in books.

The workshop was co-hosted by the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF), Obion County Imagination Library (Reading Railroad) and the Union City Rotary Club. Covering a wide spectrum of topics – including musical and dramatic approaches to reading, visualization, repetition, parallel arts and crafts activities, and how to use music from radio, TV and CD’s to tell stories and boost listening skills – Korn’s primary emphasis was on equipping attendees with skills and strategies designed to maximize a child’s engagement during reading time.

“We know that children whose parents assist them in developing a love of reading and its parallel literacies of writing, communication and comprehension will fare far better in academic performance,” Korn said. “We also know that if we help a child reach literacy at third grade standards by third grade, the child is likely to graduate high school, find a profession, and be a contributor to society: early childhood pre-literacy is essential.”

Theresa Carl, GBBF president, noted that today’s workshop – the last of four held throughout the state this year – fits squarely within her organization’s mission to sustain and strengthen Tennessee’s statewide Imagination Library program.

“We are thrilled that educators, parents and caregivers from Obion County were able to attend Mitchell Korn’s unique workshop and learn from his expertise,” Carl said. “The Obion County Imagination Library works to raise the profile of early childhood literacy, and Mr. Korn’s strategies and techniques for reading to children are a perfect complement to their work.”   

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 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 five – at no cost to families and regardless of income. Over 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 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.

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. 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.

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 how to support Obion County’s Imagination Library program, or for information about how to enroll a child, visit or call toll-free at 1-877-99-BOOKS.