Dolly Parton’s “Imagination Library” program, launched locally by United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore in 2012, celebrated its fifth birthday in May by reaching over 100,000 books delivered to 4,588 local children. Serving Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset and Dorchester Counties, the book program is provided at no cost to children under the age of five. Imagination Library is funded primarily through grants, with major support provided by PNC’s Grow Up Great Initiative, M&T Bank, Bank of America, The Walmart Foundation, The Richard A. Henson Foundation, The Donnie Williams Foundation, RPS ISG International, and many Rotary Clubs..
The positive impacts of Imagination Library are seen in over 1,200 communities throughout the United States and the program serves as a key resource for families and a tool that empowers children for success. Upon registering for the program, a child receives a high quality, age-appropriate book delivered directly to his or her home each month until age five. Children enrolled as newborns can receive as many as 60 books throughout the course of enrollment to build their home libraries.
“Building a home library, book by book, helps foster a love of reading that can last a lifetime,” said Pam Gregory, United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore’s Community Impact Director. “Our United Way is committed to providing the program to all children in our community… and the measurable results speak for themselves.”
According to the most recent Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) in Wicomico, Dorchester and Somerset Counties, children enrolled in Imagination Library test higher in all categories of kindergarten readiness than children who are not enrolled. Tested categories include Language and Literacy, Mathematics, Physical Development and Social Foundations. Worcester County’s Reading Readiness test scores showed Imagination Library enrollees testing at 61% ready versus non enrollees at 45% ready.