Give the Gift of Reading to Knox County Children

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Give the Gift of Reading to Knox County Children

Posted: 09/23/2010
In honor of Tennessee's Imagination Library Week, Knox County Public Library is kicking off a new campaign to help raise funds for the books mailed out to Knox County children under 5 through the Imagination Library program. The campaign consists of ads on television, radio, newspaper and Facebook.

Imagination Library provides a free, quality book each month to any Knox County child from birth to age five enrolled in the program.. Books are addressed to the child and are delivered directly to their mailbox. Each book is carefully selected by a "blue ribbon" team of literacy and child development experts. Participation is open to all children regardless of family income.

Dolly Parton started Imagination Library in Sevier County in 1996 as a way to combat illiteracy. It was launched in Knox County in January 2005. At that time, national research showed that 35% of children entering Kindergarten were not prepared to learn to read. In essence, they were behind before they got started. Pre-literacy skills such as letter and number recognition, book handling, and vocabulary building are developed primarily as a result of being read to. Imagination Library has been very effective in encouraging young families to read together and improving early literacy skills. Over 700,000 books have been mailed to Knox County children since the program's inception.

Knox County's Imagination Library mails books to 72% of the eligible population - over 17,000 books per month - leading the nation in the percentage of registered children among urban counties. The program, which is administered by Knox County Public Library, has now mailed over 900,000 books to more than 31,000 children since January 2005, giving kids access to the high-quality children's literature that can help them develop a passion for reading and help them enter school ready to succeed.

An independent board of advisors raises funds for half the cost of books and mailing from local donors, promotes the program and registers children. The Governor's Books from Birth Foundation covers the other half of books and mailing in all 95 Tennessee counties, and it serves local organizers by providing fundraising, public relations, and other support. The Dollywood Foundation manages operational details of the program in over 700 communities, including book selection for the Library, price negotiation, and distribution logistics.

This campaign was made possible through the generous donation of resources from Morris Creative Group who developed the campaign, WATE, Comcast, and Citadel Communication who are broadcasting the public service announcements, and Knoxville News Sentinel and Knoxmoms.com who are running ads.

For more information, please call 865-215-8784.