(Mansfield, LA) – United Way of Northwest Louisiana has teamed up with BHP to bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program to all children under five years of age living in DeSoto Parish.

Thirty-four percent of children in DeSoto Parish are entering kindergarten are unprepared. Research has shown that the number of books in a child’s home is significantly linked to reading scores – the more books, the better the score.  United Way wants to help more kids have books in their homes and this educational driven partnership with BHP will help to fight and reverse this statistic.

“At BHP, we understand the need for resources in DeSoto Parish. BHP is committed to supporting educational development to benefit the communities that our employees live in,” said Clint Poche, Superintendent Area Operations for BHP. “Since seeing the positive results Imagination Library has had in other parishes, we believe supporting this United Way program will help to begin closing the educational gap in DeSoto Parish.”

This nationally recognized program provides every child who enrolls with an age appropriate book each month mailed to their home, creating their own personal library of 60 books over five years. It inspires families to read more frequently to their children and catalyze our community to invest more time, talent and treasures to better prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed. This early childhood literacy program aims to foster a love of reading to preschool age children and helps prepare them for kindergarten success.

“School readiness may very well be the greatest educational challenge of our generation,” said Dr. Cade Brumley, Superintendent of DeSoto Parish Schools. “Only when communities take active ownership for this issue will we see transformational change. I am thankful and look forward to the partnerships that hold promise for supporting this critical area through the launch of Imagination Library.”

Parents of children from birth to age five, living anywhere in DeSoto Parish, will register their children to participate in this free program.

“Community change doesn’t happen alone,” said Vice President of Resource Development for UWNWLA, Jennifer Martin. “DeSoto Parish has a strong and supportive community. This is just one example of how United Way NWLA and other community partners unite to fight for education.”