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By BRYCE MARTIN
Pioneer Editor | [email protected]
“We want to get books into the hands of young children as soon as possible,” said Sarah Snavely, director of the Bowman Regional Public Library.
And that is precisely the goal for the library’s newest literacy program, Imagination Library.
Professional organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and advocacy groups have encouraged parents to read to their children from birth to foster early learning and create connections in the brain that promote language development.
Evidence suggests that reading to young children is in fact associated with differences in brain activity supporting early reading skills, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Through the Imagination Library program, children who sign up will get a free, new book delivered directly to them every month until they reach age five.
It’s already attracted 60 local youths to become interested in reading.
“What better way to get kids to love books,” said Betsy Dalrymple, former first lady of North Dakota. “(Imagination Library) is the gift that keeps on giving.”
Dalrymple visited the Bowman Regional Public Library last April to tout the program and announce that funding had been secured for Bowman and Slope counties.
Imagination Library is a completely free program founded in 1995 by legendary country-western singer Dolly Parton. She began the program after a severe problem with illiteracy was discovered in her home county in Tennessee.
Research from control groups in Tennessee, Georgia and Michigan have released findings that children involved with Imagination Library become better readers and more prepared for schooling.
Bowman and Slope County’s involvement in the program was made possible by local sponsors ONEOK, the North Dakota Petroleum Council, MDU Resources and the Bowman Rotary Club.
Because of their donations to the program, Bowman and Slope County children up to age five can sign-up to receive a free, monthly book in the mail.