The Grundy County Imagination Library Program received a tremendous boost from the First Lady of Tennessee at a special public meeting Friday at the Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City. A large crowd of Imagination Library supporters from throughout the county and adjacent counties attended to hear Mrs. Crissy Haslam speak about the success of the program statewide. Theresa Carl, president of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, also spoke to those gathered for the event. The Rotary Club of Grundy County, which is the facilitator for this program, hosted the event.
Jim Waller, chairman of the Imagination Library program for the county said that 460 children are currently enrolled in the program of an estimated 800 children in the county under the age of five. The percentage of enrolled children is just slightly higher than the statewide average. Theresa Carl thanked those in attendance for their generous support for the program and said that teaching reading skills to children from birth to age five remains a top priority of the State of Tennessee and the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation.
Mrs. Haslam said that she and her husband, Governor Bill Haslam, strongly hold that helping children to read between birth and age five is essential to their development. She stressed that parents and grandparents must begin reading to a child as soon after birth as possible because 80% of a child’s brain is formed by age three. Reading is the most important skill that a child develops at an early age. The reading key then unlocks all other subject material which the child learns in school or at home. Parents are the first teachers of any child. It is crucial that they realize this. Reading with young children also develops strong bonds between parents and the child.
Mrs. Haslam said that every one of the 95 counties in the State of Tennessee is supporting the Imagination Library program and that no other state has yet done this. She said it had become evident that Tennessee’s low graduation rates from high school were related to the inability of many children to read adequately. She related the sad fact that the State Department of Corrections uses the tested reading skills of third grade children in the state to estimate the number of beds the state’s prisons will require ten years hence. When children cannot read, they have poorer performance in academics, family and peer relations, and obtaining jobs. This leads to juvenile delinquency and criminal behavior as adults.
The Imagination Library is a wonderful program that will enrich the lives of many children, improve their school performance, and give them greater opportunities for success in life. Making parents aware of the Imagination Library program is of utmost importance. The program provides one free book per month to every child that is enrolled. Children can be enrolled by contacting Janie Melton at the Grundy County Health Department at 692-3641 or the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation at 1-877-99-BOOKS. Members of the Rotary Club of Grundy County also enroll children at the request of parents or grandparents.
Praising local Imagination Library volunteers for the success of the books-for-preschoolers program, First Lady Crissy Haslam thanked supporters and pushed for continued community support at an event held at the Dutch Maid Bakery last Friday. Pictured (l to r): Katie Bell, President of Rotary Club of Grundy County; Chrissy Haslam, Tennessee’s First Lady; Theresa Carl, President of Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation; and Jim Waller, Rotarian Chair of Imagination Library Project.