In August, 2011, the Rotary Club of Grundy County adopted the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program as a club’s program to benefit Grundy County children. Seven out of ten Grundy County children age birth to five years are currently receiving a free Imagination Library book every month. This program, which costs approximately $24 per child per year, half of which is paid by the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and half paid by local donations, is one of the Rotary Club most important initiatives for improving learning and work habits of our county’s youth.
Eighty percent of the brain development of a child occurs before age three. Learning to read during this period greatly increases the chances of success for the child during its lifetime. Reading with the child increases parent involvement which further leads to better family relationships and less behavioral problems for the child. Children who have been engaged in the Imagination Library program also have better relations with peers when they start school. A child who is read to by a parent three or more times a week is twice as likely to achieve reading scores in the top 25 percent of students. Reading skills are essential to the success of individuals, regardless of trade or profession. Sadly, nearly one-half of correctional facility inmates cannot read or write and 85 percent of juvenile offenders have reading problems.
The Rotary Club’s Imagination Library Program committee is committed to enrolling every child in Grundy County in this outstanding program. In the past year, the number of enrolled children has increased to 574. During this time nearly 7,000 books were delivered to Grundy County children. Still, over one-fourth of our children are not receiving these books. We need to reach parents whose children are not benefitting from this program, and we need to reach out to the community to help in this outreach effort and with the purchase cost for the books for the children of Grundy County.