The water crisis and the pandemic have changed so many things in life, but if your child is enrolled in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the program for children from birth to their 5th birthday, the monthly arrival of a book in the mailbox is one thing Flint children and parents can count on.
Flint kids have received more than 200,000 books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library since the first book was mailed January 2017. The Flint program was established in response to the water crisis with a grant from The Foundation for Flint. Since the program was established over 9,500 eligible children have been served. Nearly 4,800 children are currently active and receive the books monthly and 4,700 have graduated from the program (reached their 5th birthday). The 200,000th book was mailed at the end of February, 2021.
The program is funded locally by the Foundation for Flint (Community Foundation of Greater Flint) and managed by partners of the Flint & Genesee Literacy Network including Flint Public Library and its Friends group, Genesee Intermediate School District, and many other partners.
“Since 2014, people from every state in the United States and 15 countries around the world have stepped forward to help the city of Flint and its citizens recover from the Flint water crisis by giving generously to the Flint Kids Fund,” said Isaiah Oliver, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. “The Fund’s $691,700 investment in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library aligns with the foundation’s strategic focus on improving literacy rates. Keeping young children at the center of needed solutions helps our community transition from crisis to recovery.”
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Part of our celebration of the 200,000th book mailed out to Flint kids is to remind the community that this program is available and ready for new enrollments,” said Kay Schwartz, Director of Library Services, Flint Public Library.
“The Genesee Intermediate School District continues to be an enthusiastic partner in connecting children and families to literacy through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. This wonderful program is utilized in our Early Head Start, Head Start and Early On programs to instill the love of reading at the earliest of life’s stages. The GISD promotes registration in this important program in school enrollment packets for all eligible families in our community. In collaboration with community partners, we also encourage family reading by providing early literacy bundles to new mothers at Hurley Hospital, which includes information on how to enroll in the Dolly Parton Imagination program.
We are grateful to have robust partners to make this kind of magic happen for our families.” Lisa Hagel, Superintendent.
“Each month, my daughter, Cadence loves being surprised with a new adventure from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library! The books that we receive are a broad mixture of authors, lengths, subjects and types. They keep her interested and engaged. I love the tips in some of the books on how the books can be used to teach different concepts and promote imagination. I am so glad that Flint families have the Dolly Parton Imagination Library! “ Essence Wilson, parent.
“In a year when the world seemingly turned upside down, the monthly home delivery of books to our youngest Flint kids has been a dependable source of enrichment. With reading as one of the most important prescriptions for healthy and successful children, I am thrilled that we have achieved the incredible 200,000 book milestone!” Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Director, Pediatric Public Health Initiative.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails an age-appropriate book each month to the home of each eligible registered child at no cost to the family. The first book mailed to each eligible child is The Little Engine that Could and the last book, received in the month of the child’s 5th birthday, is Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!
To be eligible for the program a child must be under age 5 and must reside in zip codes 48501 through 48507 or 48532. “Close to 44% of all children residing in those zip code areas are enrolled in the program,” notes Schwartz.
Registration can be done online at FlintKidsRead.org or you can drop by the Flint Public Library at Courtland Center, 4190 E. Court Street, to pick up a registration form. If there is more than one child eligible child in the household, each child can be registered separately and will receive his/her own age-appropriate books. It takes 8-10 weeks before the first book arrives. Call 810.249-2569 for more information!