Dolly Parton reading program for children taking off in Boyle County

Published 4:32 pm Thursday, August 4, 2022

LANCE GAITHER

Contributing writer

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a national program that provides books to children ages 5  and under. Since Boyle County joined the program in May, it has beaten the three-year projections for membership, having already enrolled nearly half of all preschool-aged children in the county.

Cindy Blevins is a retired educator and now works part time at the Boyle County Library. She played a pivotal role in the launch of the program. 

“I had no doubt we would register more children than anticipated, but I won’t be satisfied even when we reach 65% saturation, which is the statewide goal,” Blevins said. “Honestly, I won’t ever be satisfied with these goals, because it always means there is one more child out there who could be receiving the gift of an age-appropriate book every month to their home.”

She went on to explain that the program not only helps improve children’s kindergarten readiness, but that it also brings families closer. 

“I think we all agree that literacy is important, but we don’t really define whym,” she said. “I’ve heard from parents how proud their children are to get a book in the mail with their name on it and they want to read it over and over.  . . .By reading together, families are talking about books and spending quality time together.”

The owner of Plaid Elephant Books, Kate Snyder, is also one of the people who helped launch the program in Boyle County. She said it was inspiring to see the community work together for a good cause.

“It’s been a really cool way to see all these different entities in Boyle County working together to get more books for kids,” she said

She said she has a passion for getting children into reading and that her bookstore could help market the program.

“I thought the bookstore could be a good hub for getting information out to families,” she said.

She recommends all families with children under the age of 5 join the program.

Centre College professor and associate of Heart of Kentucky Kids, which helps provide early childhood care and education in Boyle and Mercer County, Patten Mahler, Ph.D., said that the early success of the program has made the focus shift from initial enrollment to long-term sustainability. She is confident that the program will be able to continue with the support of the community due to the overwhelming positive response and popularity that the program has had.

One group of high school students participating in Center College’s Governor’s Scholars class “The Thing About Dolly” took the initiative to help raise funds for the continued support of the program. The scholars gathered items from local businesses and works from local artists to launch an online auction where they raised $1,800 for the program. They even helped put up posters promoting the Imagination Library in the windows of several local businesses. 

If you have a child under the age of five and would like to enroll in the program, you can check availability by going to imaginationlibrary.com.  You can also provide a donation at www.hkykids.org.