LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A new initiative to set up children for success from an early age has arrived in Louisville.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library of Louisville will provide a free book each month to children who enroll, from birth until their fifth birthday. These books are specially selected to be age-appropriate and foster a child's love of reading. The program gives children coming from different socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to get on the same page.
Founded in 2016 by the Junior League of Louisville, WAVE 3 News and the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation, the Imagination Library of Louisville strives to improve early education to contribute to the lifelong success of children. It is made possible through a grant from Delta Dental and other generous sponsors.
In Jefferson County, 48 percent of children do not enter kindergarten ready to learn, according to the Kids Count Data Center. This is measured by a statewide test called Brigance, which looks at a series of indicators, one of which is to simply identify the front cover a book. We want to make sure children meet these measures of success.
Why is this important? Children who start out behind, tend to stay behind. Nearly two-thirds of students who reach the fourth grade without proficient reading skills end up on welfare or in prison. In Jefferson County, 56 percent of fourth graders are not proficient readers.
The partners of Imagination Library believe that future is unacceptable for Louisville children.
Parents of Imagination Library participants report spending more time reading with their children, and also seeing their kids' interest in books and reading grow. Maintaining a culture of reading is linked to improved kindergarten readiness and better educational success throughout school. As an added bonus, the program also has been linked to increased adult literacy.
The program is starting in the heart of Louisville. Families living in the zip codes 40202, 40203 and 40208 can sign up their children ages five and under at this time, regardless of their income. About six to eight weeks after enrollment, free books addressed to the child will begin to arrive directly in their mailbox each month.
Don't live in Louisville? There are several other Imagination Library programs in WAVE Country including programs in Floyd, Harrison, Scott and Washington Counties in Indiana and Carroll and Hart Counties in Kentucky.
To enroll a child in Imagination Library, click here.
In 2017, the Imagination Library of Louisville will be limited to 500 children. That is only 1 percent of the city's population under five years old; however, this number is just a starting point. As support for the program increases, the number of children who can be served by Imagination Library will also increase. To encourage this growth by making a donation, please click here.