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Carnival draws large crowd

Imagination Library
B.C. Stout pauses his train for a photo, while his passengers are eagerly awaiting the ride around the block during theannual Johnson County Imagination Library Carnival hosted last month in Mountain City. Carnival organizers were pleased to see this year’s festivities as one of the most attended in event history. Photo by Tamas Mondovics.

By Jinifer Rae
Freelance Writer

Visitors from all over Johnson County came to support the Fifth Annual Imagination Library Carnival. Giving testimony to the program’s importance and the community’s interest and support, this year’s carnival held at the First United Methodist Church was one of the most attended since its start in Mountain City.Organizers expected more than 600 people to attend, and they were not disappointed. This year’s carnival saw the largest attendance since it was originated. As guests walked the grounds, there were plenty of fun things to do and see including over 23 activities and booths.

“We are happy to see so many parents bring their children to celebrate with us, as we promote reading,” said Betty Brown Imagination Library Board Co-Chair.

More than 110 volunteers assisted with train rides, a bouncy house, games, arts, nail painting, cookie decorating, face painting, and much more. After enjoying all the carnival fun, children of all ages took a break from the heat while enjoying a free drink.

“As upcoming chair of the Johnson County Imagination Library board, we appreciate the community’s support of the carnival,” said Kathie Love. “I have always loved to read, and I am dedicated to our mission to provide books to children of county age’s birth to five.”

This year’s carnival also featured children’s author Jessica Young, who over the course of the week, in partnership with the Johnson County School System and the Johnson County Community Foundation, presented her work to children from Pre-K through 6 grades at Heritage Hall.

“I am thrilled to be able to visit. The enthusiasm and energy not only the kids, but the whole community has been wonderful. I am honored to be invited to participate, and foster literacy” stated Young.

Young also held a presentation for local teachers on the ‘Read to be Ready’ initiative in Tennessee at the Johnson County School Board Office.” The Imagination Library was created by Dolly Parton in Tennessee and has been providing young readers statewide the tools to develop reading skills early and carry a love of reading throughout their lives. Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write Parton started her Imagination Library in 1995 for the children in Sevier County, the singer’s home. Today, the program spans four countries and mail out more than one million free
books each month to children around the world.

Leni Smith stated “It is so rewarding seeing all the kids have such a good time, and how excited they are about the carnival and the author. We want to introduce kids to literacy at an early age.”

The program came to Johnson County in 2005. Imagination Library, which currently, boasts of the enrollment of nearly 800 Johnson County children, is free and is open to any Tennessee child from birth to five years of age. For more information or to enroll in the program, parents can visit www.imaginationlibrary.com or visit the Johnson County Library.