Imagination Library promotes early literacy in Gila County


Ever since its start, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a free book program for young children, has provided more than one million free books to children around the world each month.

Dolly Parton began this program in her home state of Tennessee to foster a love of reading among the country’s preschool children and their families. She mailed quality, age-appropriate books directly to the homes of children ages zero to five, regardless of their family’s income. Her program was so successful that it spread beyond the United States to the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Ireland. As of August 2020, the total number of free books gifted by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is over 143 million.

According to early literacy forerunners like Globe’s own Adrea Ricke, Grant Project Coordinator for the Gila County Library District, the Imagination Library really needs some help right now in Gila County. “Because of Covid-19, many in-person outreach opportunities to sign children up have been canceled,” said Ricke. “I and the Early Literacy Liaison for Gila County Library District. Nikki Lewis, have been working on other ways to reach families to let them know about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, such as Facebook outreach in the form of a weekly story time, Thursdays at 9 a.m., for ages zero through five and their caregivers via the Gila County Library District Facebook page. We also hope to conduct in-person story times in the future, because early literacy is incredibly important to build lifelong readers and leaders.”

Thanks to the work of the Gila County Library District, all children from birth to age five that live in Gila County and birth to age five children on the Apache Reservation in both Gila and Graham counties qualify for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. “The registered child or children will receive one book a month that is geared toward their specific age until they are five years old. By that time the child or children will have their very own library at home,” said Ricke.

Due to Covid-19, currently the most effective way to register children is by contacting one of the local representatives by phone: Adrea Ricke at 928-200-3792 or Nikki Lewis at 928-200-7748.

“Please help us make sure that all qualifying children in Gila County become a part of this wonderful opportunity to receive a free library at home,” said Ricke.

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