82 of 95 counties now participating
Governor Phil Bredesen praised the child literacy program started by Dolly Parton and said that he hopes that the program will eventually spread to even more Tennessee counties.
“This is one of those ideas you hear, and you think: ‘why didn’t I think of that?” Bredesen said.
The Imagination Library program sends one book each month by mail to each child under the age of 5 that is enrolled in the program. The program, started by Parton in 1996, is available for all residents in any participating county.
The Governor lobbied the state legislature to secure $2 million in state money to subsidize half of the cost which is estimated at $27 per child, annually.
“It gives me great pleasure to think we’ll have next year at this time probably 250,000 children in Tennessee who are receiving these kinds of books on a regular basis,” said Bredesen.
“We’ve taken it on to establish it across all of the Tennessee counties,” said Bredesen, “and I think we’re at 74 or 75 counties and my goal is obviously to get it to all 95.” Dickson County will become the 82nd county to join the program as of December 3.
“I just think books in a home are one of the signposts for kids who are going to do well in school,” said Bredesen.
Representatives with the Governor’s partner program, the Books from Birth Foundation, recently announced it will start signing up parents taking adult GED classes in Tennessee so their children may receive the project’s free books.
The goal of this move is, by engaging adults to read with their children, they will improve their own core math, reading and writing skills to result in greater percentages of them passing the GED exam, while also helping them build stronger relationships with their children.