Imagination Library Helps Young Minds Grow

By Melanie Chapman |

Published 09/18 2013 08:01PM

Updated 09/19 2013 05:02PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A program aims to give all children a chance at a successful education through books.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library started in her home county in Tennessee, grew into Branson, and will soon expand to all of Greene County.

Jude Miller, who is only 21 months old, is already fascinated by books. Every page offers a new experience -- a new surprise for a growing mind.

"We just love the books," says Jude's mother, Nina Verbanaz. "He just gets so excited to help us check the mail because he knows it comes in the mail."

Jude's family is part of the Imagination Library, a free program for kids. Each month, registered children get a new book in the mail.

"Those books start at birth if they enroll their children, then go all the way until a child turns five and it ensures those children have a new book every month until they are age five," says Nancee Dahms-Stinson, Youth Services Coordinator at the Springfield-Greene County Library. "It is one of the best early literacy programs that exists."

A panel of educators selects each book and makes sure it is age appropriate and Dolly Parton plays a role.

"What we know is children who enter school having lots of exposure to words and reading are going to be ahead of their peers," says Dana Carroll with the group Every Child Promise.

Imagination Library gives children a chance for a brighter future, and an early start to literacy. The program is offered to children in certain area codes.

Eight-month-old Lucus Clinton is also opened up to learning.

"He already has his favorite books and home and stuff," says mother Esther. "He loves to read them to us and we just really enjoy reading together often."

Imagination Library is also in three other countries. In Missouri, more than 12,000 children are getting new books every month.

For more information, or to make a donation, check out their website.

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