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Imagination Library initiative underway

POSTED March 18, 2017 7:10 p.m.

HOISINGTON — Hoisington residents are encouraging children to pick up books at an early age — even before they are able to read. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is coming to town as a United Way of Central Kansas program, and USD 431 will hold a read-a-thon to raise money for the initiative, Superintendent Bill Lowry said.
The school district hosted a Hoisington Chamber of Commerce coffee last Thursday to kick off the program.
The read-a-thon for children in preschool through fourth grade starts March 27 and will last two weeks. Children can log time they spend reading or being read to by their parents.
Each student has a website which parents can activate through the USD 431 website. The families can reach out through social media to friends and family to raise funds to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to Hoisington. Cash or check donations can be dropped off at the USD 431 District Office, and Lowry will ensure the student is credited with the donation.
If the community is successful in bringing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to town, all children from birth to 5 years old who reside in the Hoisington zip code (67544) will be eligible to go to the Hoisington Public Library and register for the program. Children will receive one age-appropriate book per month at no cost to the family.
UWCK Executive Director Julie Bugner-Smith said Ellinwood and Larned already participate in the program, with about 150 children receiving books each month. She urged community members to support kids participating in the read-a-thon. All funds raised will go directly to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library initiative.
“It’s very important to encourage reading at an early age,” she said. “Kids become better students, and that’s better for the community overall.”

Dewey shares family experience
Jacqueline Dewey signed her son Jonathan up for the program at the Ellinwood Library when he was 2. She showed some of the books they’ve received.
“It’s always hard for me to choose which books off our shelf from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library that I want to bring because they are all so good,” she said. They can be read “for fun,” but she also finds many of them are good for teaching numbers, letters, and life lessons and manners for preschoolers.
Each of the Dolly Parton books has a flap with suggestions for ways parents can engage their children as they read together. As a substitute teacher, Dewey said she can speak to the importance of this type of engagement with young readers. “I love these flaps because they give me extra ideas on how to read with Jonathan.”
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library costs United Way about $30 a year for each child, Smith said. UWCK would like to raise enough money to fund the first two years of the program in Hoisington in order to ensure it is sustainable. All of the funds remain in the community because if the family moves out of the zip code, they must register in their new community if it has the program available.

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