Funding shortfall ends Imagination Library service in Cabell County
HUNTINGTON — Imagination Library, Dolly Parton’s home-delivery book program for children under 5 years old, is no longer available in Cabell County, according to a news release from the United Way of the River Cities. Beginning in April, the program shut down due to a lack of funding. The program was implemented in Cabell County in 2013 as part of a three-year grant, but has been funded in majority by United Way of the River Cities, the release said. “When the initial funding ended in 2016, United Way assumed the majority of expenses while working to develop a sustainability plan,” said Andrea Roy, director of community impact at United Way, in the release.“We have been awarded grants here and there to support the program, but we have not identified a solution that would allow us to stay ahead of the $7,500 or so a month that the programcosts.” As part of the Imagination Library, parents registered their children to be mailed a free book each month until they turn 5. Since 2013, 166,123 age-appropriate Imagination Library books were delivered to registered children’s mailboxes, according to Lena Burdette, director of education initiatives at United Way.
“Children who live in printrich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule,” Burdette said in the release. “We are imploring families to continue reading to their young children and encouraging them to visit their local public library for high-quality books and programs.”
According to the Imagination Library website, there were 3,174 children enrolled in the program in Cabell County in 2017. The program also benefits 25,978 children across the state of West Virginia, and more than 1 million children are registered in the United States.
In 1995, Parton launched the Imagination Library to benefit the children of her home county in east Tennessee. Today, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends millions of books per month to children around the world, and the program recently donated its 100 millionth book to the Library of Congress.