Smart Start and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library are working together to bring books to North Carolina’s youngest children through funding provided by the North Carolina General Assembly.
During the 2017 legislative session, North Carolina state lawmakers included $3.5 million in the first year of the budget and $7 million in the second year for the Smart Start network to offer free books through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to children across the state, according to a news release from The Surry County Early Childhood Partnership.
Smart Start is a public/private partnership of independent, private organizations in all 100 North Carolina counties through The North Carolina Partnership for Children Inc., and 75 local partnerships. The Surry County Early Childhood Partnership is one of those.
Imagination Library is a program created to foster a love of reading among children aged birth to 5 through the gift of a specially selected book delivered to their home each month.
“Families who would like for their children to receive books should visit the Smart Start website or call us or come into our office,” said Marty Westmoreland, executive director of the Early Childhood Partnership. “There are brochures in our office that contain the form that needs to be filled out. We just recently got them. Call us and we’ll mail them out or come in and fill it out.”
Each child enrolled in the program will receive a book once a month until the age of 5 or they move out of the county.
“I’m thrilled that my Imagination Library is going to be offered to so many children in North Carolina,” wrote Dolly Parton, the founder of Imagination Library. “Working together we can help children dream more, learn more, care more and be more.”
“Our state leaders clearly understand how important an early love of reading is for each child’s success in school and later in life,” stated Cindy Watkins, the president of the North Carolina Partnership for Children that oversees the Smart Start network. “Smart Start works in every community to ensure young children have a strong foundation for starting kindergarten – now we can offer this important literacy program to that critical work.”
“Enrollment for the program is verified with zip codes, so we chose to open it up to all zip codes in Surry County. We want this program to be available for all children ages birth to five in our county,” stated Westmoreland.
The statewide effort will begin in 98 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Because the program is offered by zip code, the initial launch will cover 85 percent of NC zip codes expanding to cover every county by the second year.
To find out more about Smart Start and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library partnership, and register a child, visit www.smartstart.org/dolly-partons-imagination-library or call 336-786-1880. Surry County Early Childhood Partnership is located at 101 W. Lebanon St., Suite 106 (next to Gondola’s Restaurant).
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.