United Way of Northwest Louisiana is calling on the community to help provide Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to eligible children under five years of age. Since 2016, excitement for the free book program has grown exponentially and expanded into five new parishes. UWNWLA’s President and CEO, Bruce Willson says the growth happened quickly.
“We are thrilled to offer this needed educational program to new families, however, our fundraising efforts were outpaced by the demand for the program. Imagination Library is currently at capacity, and we are currently seeking new partners to support the program,” said Willson.
Although Willson says the program is at capacity, children currently enrolled in the program will continue to receive books until their fifth birthday. Registration for new families is closed temporarily until additional sponsors have been identified and secured.
This nationally recognized program sends a new high-quality, age-appropriate book each month to a child’s home at no cost to the family. If enrolled at birth, a child can receive their own personal library of 60 books. 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. For this reason, United Way of Northwest Louisiana wants to help more children have books in the home.
Last August, Atmos Energy provided the seed funding to expand the program to Sabine Parish.
“Atmos Energy is committed to supporting educational development to benefit the communities where our employees live and work,” said Ann Hayward, Manager of Public Affairs at Atmos Energy. “Since seeing the positive results Imagination Library has had in other parishes, we were confident this would be a good investment for the families in our area as well.”
Imagination Library inspires families to read more frequently to their children and catalyze communities 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.
Imagination Library is currently in the parishes of Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine and Webster. For questions about becoming an Imagination Library partner, contact Jennifer Horton, Vice President of Community Impact at Impact@unitedwaynwla.org.