By Conner Nowak
The Imagination Library is an effort started by Dolly Parton to put high quality books in the hands of younger children every month with the goal of engaging them into literature at an early age. Children participating in the program receive the gift of a specially selected book each month.
Since starting in 1995, the program has become available in over 1,600 communities, including Johnson County. Johnson County Imagination Library was recently recognized with a three-star award for having 75 percent of Johnson County students under five receiving books. The state average is 68 percent. The Imagination Board appreciates the support it received from the community which made this achievement possible.
The success of this local program is due largely to the ongoing support of the community and key community financial partners such as Dr. Donald Tarr and his wife Carol. The couple supported the Imagination Library program when it began here in the county 13 years ago and have continued to support it throughout the years.
Dr. Tarr and his wife were honored at a graduation party which was held at the local library for children who have been a part of the program that will be attending kindergarten in the fall. The children received an Imagination Library backpack with school supplies and a book with a label inside honoring the Tarrs.
Also recognized at the graduation were three children who won the Johnson County Imagination Library t-shirt design contest, Liam Crawford (first place), Wyatt Worley (2nd place), and Anna Jones (3rd place). The students were tasked with designing a shirt for the Imagination Library with a theme that reflected books and/or reading. To say the students delivered would be an understatement.
Those invested in the program believe that kids can be given a creative spark and develop their imaginations by entering the world of reading. Literacy can be a valuable trait to have and there are a number of statistics out there showing that programs such as the Imagination Library do dramatically improve scores during early literacy testing.
Programs such as the Imagination Library serve an important role in communities as they not only stimulate the imaginations of children, they also encourage creativity through events such as the aforementioned t-shirt contest.
Parents with children under the age of five who wish to register their child into the Imagination Library program can do so on their website. The program is open to anyone under the age of five regardless of financial circumstance.