Early literacy is critical in the academic success of every child. That statistic is well understood by those in education circles. The earlier a child is exposed to reading the greater the chance they will be ready to start school and flourish in that environment.

While people understand the concept, the opportunity for that to happen in all homes does always not exist, which is where an organization known as Imagination Library comes into the picture.

Through Imagination Library, a program initiated in 1995 by Dolly Parton, children ages zero to five receive books in the mail free of charge that can be used to enhance literacy opportunities.

For a number of years Imagination Library was offered in the Redwood area, but due to a lack of funding the program was discontinued this past fall. Through the efforts of local individuals that program is being initiated once again for the community. 

According to Anna Thomes, who is helping to coordinate Imagination Library in the Redwood area, the first books should be mailed to children as of sometime next month.

Thomes has been joined by Sue Osborne and Heidi van der Hagen in the effort to bring back Imagination Library, and through that work several local sponsors have been found to help make getting those books in the hands of children has become a reality.

Currently, the program is being sponsored by the Redwood Falls Lions Club, as well as First Presbyterian Church. Other groups are also being approached about helping to sponsor the program. There is always a need for added funding, and if there is anyone who might be interested in helping provide books for local children, they are encouraged to contact Thomes, Osborne or van der Hagen for additional information.

According to van der Hagen, the group currently has a database of 200 children in Redwood Falls who will be mailed books, which come once a month. By the time a child turns five years old they will have received 60 free books through Imagination Library.

The cost for each child to receive those books is $30 per year. Thomes said it is fun for the child to get something in the mail. That fun is compounded when a child is able to crawl up into the lap of their mom, dad or some other loved one and have that book read to them.

The books that come in the mail are age appropriate, Thomes said, and in cases where there are two children in the same family who receive books those that come are different.

While the program is focused in the Redwood area, anyone who resides within the boundaries of the Redwood Area School District are eligible to take part in the Imagination Library program that is being offered locally.

Millions of books have been sent to children over the years that the Imagination Library program has been in existence.

To learn more about the literacy program visit its Web site at www.imaginationlibrary.com.

More about the local program can be learned by sending an e-mail to imaginationlibraryredwoodfalls@gmail.com.

– Photo courtesy of the Imagination Library Web site